Greening the surgical process: key strategies

Kate Woodhead RGN DMS discusses some of the strategies that could help operating theatre teams to reduce their impact on the environment and to maximise their contribution towards achieving the NHS’s Net Zero target.

The greatest challenge of our life is with us now and that is climate change. The association of rising temperatures, uncertain weather and climate effects causing fires, floods and many storms, together with the spread of different vector-borne diseases, increases the risks of harm to society.

As responsible professionals and citizens, we need to ensure that our work environment is able to make as much difference as we do at home to contribute towards the Net Zero target. The World Health Organization says that the climate crisis is a major threat to human health. Delivery of healthcare is also part of the problem — so what can we do to assist?

Health systems are thought to contribute 4.4% of global emissions in comparison to 2.5% from aviation. Surgical practice is one of the largest single causes of resource use in health systems, which in England accounts for around 27% of the financial spend and an estimated 5.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year.1

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