Background Allied health professionals (AHPs) have an important role to support the Greener National Health Service (NHS) agenda. Dietitians are AHPs who are already demonstrating strong influence on food sustainability advocacy. There is call for more collaboration across the health professions to optimise “green” leadership in the pursuit of planetary health. The present study aimed to investigate the perceived role of AHP leaders and future leaders around more sustainable healthcare practices. Methods A mixed methods approach using audio-recorded semi-structured interviews with strategic AHP leaders (n = 11) and focus groups with student AHPs (n = 2). Standardised open-ended questions considered concepts of (i) leadership, (ii) green agenda, (iii) collaboration and (iv) sustainability. Purposive sampling used already established AHP networks. Thematic analysis systematically generated codes and themes with dietetic narratives drawn out specifically as exemplars. Results The findings represent diverse AHP voices, with six of 14 AHPs analysed, including dietetic (future) leaders. Three key themes emerged: (1) collective vision of sustainable practice; (2) empowering, enabling and embedding; and (3) embracing collaborative change. Dietetic specific narratives included food waste, NHS food supply chain issues, and tensions between health and sustainability advice. Conclusions The present study shows that collaborative leadership is a core aspiration across AHP leaders and future leaders to inform the green agenda. Despite inherent challenges, participant perceptions illustrate how “change leadership” might be realised to support the net zero agenda within health and social care. Dietitians possess the relevant skills and competencies, and therefore have a fundamental role in evolving collaborative leadership and directing transformational change towards greener healthcare practices. Recommendations are made for future leaders to embrace this agenda to meet the ambitious net zero targets Key points There is a need for allied health professionals (AHP) to embrace the National Health Service (NHS) net zero agenda Dietitians are AHP with existing competencies to act as advocates for environmentally sustainable diets This research uses qualitative approaches (interviews and focus groups) with current and future AHP leaders The findings illustrate the need for dietitians to step up to their collaborative leadership role to tackle greener healthcare practices



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Publication Title

Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics



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School of Health Professions