The Eye Treatment Centre at Whipps Cross Hospital has won the Green Ward Competition for leading the way in delivering sustainable patient care in the NHS.
The Green Ward Competition is a programme for healthcare organisations to transform their services by cutting carbon, improving patient care and staff experience, and saving money. Run by The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, facilitators work directly with teams to develop, run and measure their sustainability projects.
The Eye Treatment Centre carried out four sustainable healthcare initiatives as part of the competition, these were:
- Keeping patients awake for cataract surgery to reduce unnecessary anaesthesia and minimise intravenous sedation.
- Replacing disposable plastic or polystyrene cups, plates and cutlery in the department with reusable items.
- Using clean theatre wraps to create decorations, which is bringing the team together, reducing waste and generating income for the department.
- Minimising interruptions to frontline staff to improve patient flow.
Operating under local anaesthetic for most cataract surgeries is perfectly safe, and reducing the amount of general anaesthesia used has the potential to save 1910kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) every year. Once these changes are sustained and fewer patients are listed to have general anaesthetic, there will be a further saving of at least one hospital appointment where patients would have had to have a pre-operative assessment. This could make a further saving of 1794kg of CO2e annually. This initiative also has the potential to save around £160,000 over a year period.
Miss Sudeshna Patra, Consultant Eye Surgeon and Network Director at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “The Green Ward competition really raised my awareness about sustainable healthcare and the impact that modern medicine has on the environment. It was a real eye-opener to learn that small interventions such as remembering to carry a drinking bottle or having more meaningful conversations with patients about their care could have a significant impact on the world we live in. And having had the opportunity to participate in the competition and emerge as winners, there is no turning back for either me or my team.”
The Eye Treatment Centre team had also noticed a high use of plastic cups, plates and cutlery in the centre, and they wanted to take action. As part of this initiative, staff were encouraged to use reusable items and non-plasticised papers cups were ordered for patients.
Before the project started they used 16,500 polystyrene and plastic cups per month and by the end of the project they had switched to paper cups and were using fewer disposable cups overall, only 2,250 paper cups per month for patient’s hot drinks, and staff were using reusable cups and drinking bottles. This could make a saving of 58kg of C02e per month, equating to 697kg CO2e a year.
Taurai Matare, Senior Nurse in the Eye Treatment Centre at Whipps Cross Hospital and the Royal College of Nursing’s Nurse of the Year 2019, said: “The Green Ward Competition has opened my eyes to how devastating plastic is to the environment. Since the project started, I have also changed my lifestyle and removed most of the plastic in my home. I am so conscious about what I use and how I dispose of plastic.”
Barts Health is committed to being as sustainable as possible and has a number of plans in place to support this, including the Clean Air Hospital Framework and Active Travel Plan, as well as a wider Environmental Sustainability Strategy.
To read more about the Green Ward Competition and the full report for Barts Health visit sustainablehealthcare.org.uk/green-ward-competition