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Every decision needs to consider the environment

DDA conference highlights greener GP practice

October 25th 2021

Tagged: Conference news

By Ailsa Colquhoun

“To be truly sustainable as an organisation, every decision made needs to take into consideration the impact on finance and performance, people (patients and staff) and the planet,” said Dr Katharine Edmonds, founder of GreenGP Wessex.

In a presentation on sustainable GP practice, Dr Edmonds highlighted the changes GP teams can make to become more environmentally sustainable.

Key changes include prescribing of more environmentally-friendly inhalers, medicines waste management and more sustainable behaviour by practice members and patients.

Changes can include:

  • Use the NICE inhaler decision aid to help patients find the most appropriate inhaler for the patient and the environment
  • Remind patients to return unused medications for proper disposal and talk to patients about the financial and environmental cost of pharmaceutical waste.  Empty blister packs can be recycled via Terracycle.
  • Review medications regularly and talk to patients about compliance
  • Encourage active lifestyle and reduced meat diets for health as well as environmental benefits
  • Encourage sustainable staff travel, including the installation of car charging points, e-bikes
  • Green electricity tariff.

Recommending resources from Greener Practice, and specifically those for greener inhaler prescribing, Dr Edmonds recommends every practice to have a green plan in place by early 2022, setting out a three-year timescale for immediate and long term change management.

Concluding, she said that the NHS, as Britain’s largest employer, is responsible for 4 per cent of the nation’s emissions. The Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ NHS plan outlines route to net zero by 2040.

View the presentation.