Operating theatres are an important focus in carbon reduction: they account for as much as 25% of hospitals’ carbon emissions, despite fewer than 5% of hospital inpatients undergoing surgery.
Patient Advocate and Research Involvement Lead at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust Dr Lesley Booth CBE said: “Reducing the environmental impact of surgery is hugely important to improving health more broadly. We know that climate change and air pollution have wide impacts on health, many of which aren’t measurable for years to come.
“I would want my operation in a hospital that cares about the environment, showing its commitment to patients and public health.”
Find out what Solihul Hospital did.
In May 2022, a team at Solihull Hospital performed the world’s first net zero carbon operation. It involved a range of colleagues making several changes to their standard practice, including:
- using reusable gowns, drapes, and scrub caps
- giving medications through the veins for general anaesthesia rather than anaesthetic gases, which have a strong greenhouse effect
- implementing a plan for minimising electricity use, including heating and lighting
- recycling of single-use equipment used in surgery, working with industry partners
- recycling of “clean” paper and plastic waste
- using individually packed equipment, and only opening items as they were required
- one consultant surgeon jogged to hospital, and the other cycled.
Safety and efficiency were maintained for the patient throughout, carried out within a full, day-long operating list, including surgery for three other patients.