Every clinician wants to ensure that the NHS maintains the same high quality standards of clinical care, without the adverse effects it can have on the environment and future generations. In order to deliver clinical care sustainably, we need to consider the following in every aspect of care:

  • Waste reduction
  • The best use of resources
  • Focusing on health, prevention and wellbeing
  • Travel and transport choices
  • Product choices.

In the NHS, some of the most harmful products are asthma inhalers and anaesthetic gases, for example, which account for four and two percent of our overall carbon footprint respectively. A single inhaler can be as bad for the environment as a 180 mile car journey, with 5.4 million people in the UK suffer from asthma, and an hour of using one of the most harmful anaesthetics has the carbon footprint of a 230 mile car journey.

But there are alternatives – in most cases, powder-based inhalers are just as clinically effective and have a small fraction of the environmental impact. Currently they make up 90% of inhalers prescribed in Sweden (ref). It is about giving patients informed choice about the care they receive and their medicines

Beyond the NHS, other organisations addressing sustainable healthcare include:

With concerted efforts across the sector, a green and more sustainable approach to clinical care is possible.