The website of the Clinical Services Journal

Review outlines GIRFT’s role in supporting net zero carbon emissions

A review has been published outlining how the GIRFT programme is well-placed to support the NHS in reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2045.

The new paper states that embedding sustainability and carbon reduction into GIRFT processes has the potential to link up clinical improvement work with the NHS’s efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions.

Healthcare is a major contributor to global carbon emissions; in the UK, it is responsible for 4.6% of all carbon emissions. In 2020, NHS England committed to reduce direct carbon emissions to net zero by 2040 and indirect carbon emissions by 2045.

The research team identified several areas of GIRFT’s focus where there is the potential to contribute to a reduction in NHS carbon emissions:

  • Elective surgical hubs: The lower complexity of procedures commonly conducted in elective surgical hubs, and the standardisation of patient pathways, make hubs ideal for trialling low carbon models of care and implementing sustainable methods. Any improvements in the sustainability profile of an operation may be rapidly scalable across the national network of hubs.
  • Day case surgery: Improving rates of day case surgery can make a significant impact on the carbon footprint. For example, recent modelling by GIRFT and Greener NHS found that increases in the rates of day surgery for transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT) surgery has saved 20.9 million kgCO2e over 9 years (2013/2014 to 2021/2022), due to fewer inpatient hospital admissions. This can also apply to other suitable procedures. In addition, identifying and reducing procedures with limited benefit to patients (eg; knee arthroscopy before total knee replacement) can not only increase efficiency and reduce costs but reduce carbon emissions.
  • Delivering a patient-centred service: Changes in service organisation following the COVID-19 pandemic offer an opportunity to modify operating theatre practices in line with best sustainable practice, and to consider surgical pathways as a whole. Eg; face-to-face outpatient appointments are being now minimised through one-stop-shop care models and virtual appointments. GIRFT’s work on pathways across many specialties means the programme can advocate for any recognised sustainability improvements at scale.
  • Anaesthesia and peri-operative medicine (APOM): Studies have attributed 42% of the carbon footprint of surgical care to anaesthetic gases. The GIRFT national report for APOM (2021) highlighted a number of areas where the carbon footprint for the specialty might be reduced, including:
    • reducing and recycling waste and clinician education on waste management;
    • use of low-flow inhalational anaesthesia wherever possible;
    • use of total intravenous anaesthesia;
    • increased use of regional anaesthesia techniques; and
    • increased use of augmented volatile anaesthetic gas capture.

In addition, reducing operating theatre downtime can help to increase throughput and reduce the per-patient carbon emissions associated with running an operating theatre, such as lighting, heating, extraction systems and staff travel. In the longer term, once waiting lists have been reduced, operating theatre facilities and services could be turned off earlier in the day.

Assessing what a minimal surgery and anaesthetic procedure kit should contain for each procedure to eliminate unnecessary equipment would also help to avoid disposal or re-sterilisation of unused items.

Unwarranted variation and the goal of net zero for the NHS in England: exploring the link between efficiency working, patient outcomes and carbon footprint is the result of research by a group of 10 GIRFT clinicians. It is available to read in the March edition of Anaesthesia, the journal of the Association of Anaesthetists.

Upcoming Events

Infection Prevention & Control

National Conference Centre, Birmingham
23rd - 24th April 2024

ESGE Days 2024, Symposium – ‘Elevating Endoscopy: Inspiring Progress and Innovation’

Estrel Congress Center (room 15), Berlin, Germany
25th April 2024, 16:30 – 17:30 CEST

National DERS and SMART pump conference

BCEC, Birmingham
29th April 2024

World Hand Hygiene Day

Worldwide
5th May 2024

Theatres & Decontamination Conference 2024

Coventry Building Society Arena
16th May 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - Birmingham

Millennium Point, Birmingham
18th May 2024

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

Upcoming Events

Infection Prevention & Control

National Conference Centre, Birmingham
23rd - 24th April 2024

ESGE Days 2024, Symposium – ‘Elevating Endoscopy: Inspiring Progress and Innovation’

Estrel Congress Center (room 15), Berlin, Germany
25th April 2024, 16:30 – 17:30 CEST

National DERS and SMART pump conference

BCEC, Birmingham
29th April 2024

World Hand Hygiene Day

Worldwide
5th May 2024

Theatres & Decontamination Conference 2024

Coventry Building Society Arena
16th May 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - Birmingham

Millennium Point, Birmingham
18th May 2024

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

Step Communications Ltd, Step House, North Farm Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN2 3DR
Tel: 01892 779999
www.step-communications.com
© 2024 Step Communications Ltd. Registered in England. Registration Number 3893025