Sustainability and Quality Improvement

Non-urgent advice: This page

• is aimed at foundation doctors

• provides an overview of the purpose of quality improvement (QI) generally and specifically within the foundation programme

• describes how sustainability and quality improvement need to be considered jointly

• signposts to resources within each of the four nations of the UK

• signposts to general QI resources

Quality improvement (QI) methods and tools enable transformation of healthcare services to provide better-value care which is vital in the face of changing operational demands.

The importance of engaging in QI is reflected within the Foundation Programme curriculum (FPC9) and all foundation doctors (FDs) must demonstrate evidence of active participation.

It is important when engaging with improvement projects that consideration is given to sustainability in QI. This can be approached as healthcare sustainability (for example, looking at financial and social impacts, quality of training and patient experience) or as environmental sustainability (for example, looking at use of medicines and equipment, travel and buildings quality/use).

“Quality improvement methodology can support efforts to reduce the environmental impact of services and improve sustainable value of care” [NHS Education for Scotland]

Sustainability in Healthcare webinar

See below recording of the sustainability in healthcare webinar on 12 January 2024, focusing on sustainability in healthcare, and specifically sustainable quality improvement (QI).


Non-urgent advice: Four Nations

Health and Social Care Northern Ireland

NHS England

Public Health Wales

Scottish Government

Foundation training in the four UK nations – See the UKFPO About page for links to information about foundation training in the four nations

Non-urgent advice: General

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges – Sustainability resources and publication from June 2019: Developing quality improvement into practice

The Health Foundation – Quality Improvement made simple An independent charity committed to bring about better health and care for people in the UK. This guide is for those working care new to quality improvement.

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare – Sustainability in quality improvement An independent charity working with healthcare education and delivery organisations to reduce their environmental impacts. This website has step-by-step guides and resources to support individuals in integrating sustainability into pre-existing quality improvement methodologies.

The British Medical Journal – Sustainable Practice series This special series of online publications by the BMJ is an interactive editorial made up of tangible actions for sustainable healthcare. 

e-Learning for Health – Environmentally Sustainable Healthcare programme These 30-minute sessions use key concepts and case studies to provide healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills to understand sustainable healthcare.