Anaesthetic helps operating theatres go green

Hospitals discontinue use of anaesthetic gas for more environmentally friendly operating theatres

Tuesday 20th August 2019

Reducing waste and increasing recycling are common ways to try to help save the planet.

Now one hospital has taken a more unusual step to reduce its carbon footprint – by discontinuing the use of an anaesthetic gas.

Theatre staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital no longer use a type of anaesthetic agent which stays in the atmosphere longer than similar substances, resulting in a higher contribution to global warming.

NHS Forth Valley says this has saved the equivalent of 300 tonnes of CO2 being emitted annually – similar to around 200 cars being off the road. The move has also saved £32,000 a year in costs.

A three-year drive by staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital has also included measures to segregate waste more efficiently in theatres for recycling.

The amount of bagged waste being sent for incineration or heat treatment has reduced by almost a quarter, again reducing CO2 emissions and saving £7,000 per year.

The theatre team, which says reducing their carbon footprint has been achieved without impacting on patient care or efficiency, is appealing for other health boards to follow their lead.

Consultant anaesthetist Ewan Jack, clinical lead for theatres at NHS Forth Valley said: “The recycling doesn’t stop within the operating theatres, it has spread to the coffee room and administration offices in the theatre department.

“All recyclable waste is now being segregated for recycling including paper, plastic containers, cans, glass bottles, printer cartridges and batteries.”

He added: “We’d encourage all other departments within our hospital and elsewhere to follow our practice to help save planet and the NHS.”