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Operating theatres go green for NHS Sustainability Day

A series of ‘green’ initiatives introduced by theatre staff at University Hospital Southampton has led to a 50% reduction in the department’s domestic waste.

Sustainability-Day-logoThe success of the project has now inspired other teams across the Trust to adopt measures to reduce their environmental impact and is being highlighted as part of NHS Sustainability Day.

Last year senior thoracic theatre sister, Anja Templin, set out to eradicate needless waste in her department at Southampton General Hospital by introducing a series of initiatives aimed at reducing environmental impact.

She said: “I wanted to change the way we were using our resources, particularly in view of recycling. Most of us will recycle at home but at work it naturally isn’t our first priority.”

With a team behind her, five initiatives were launched. These focused on recycling, becoming ‘paper light’, energy usage, water consumption and the removal of throwaway plastic from staff areas.

Anja explained, “We provide biodegradable cups and paper straws for our patients and have removed single use plastic from coffee rooms.”

In the short time of implementing this focus on recycling, the project has already halved domestic waste across theatres. The department are also championing other recycling solutions such as introducing pharmaceutical and biological bins as well as improving facilities for aluminium and cardboard recycling.

“Going green is extremely important to our future,” said Charlotte Swales, a theatre practitioner who managed the initiative to reduce water consumption. “Like anything, change can be challenging to implement but making sure the team are educated and informed has definitely helped.”

Theatres go green

The theatre initiatives were also supported by Jo Gorsuch, Zoe Bond, Janet Child, Darren Bailey, Tom Jose, Phillip Rodell and Shelley Jones. Their collective efforts have inspired and gathered wider support from other departments, with similar initiatives being started across the hospital.

“It only takes a few people to start the ball rolling,” said Anja. “With enough support, you can achieve a lot in a very short time.”

“It’s impossible not to be alarmed by the levels of pollution and waste but I believe that small contributions such as ours will play a part in creating a better future.”

The team are continuing to work with the estates team to identify new ways of reducing energy consumption and will be moving towards ‘paper light’ methods with the use of electronic documents. A new surgical scrub gel which uses significantly less water has been trialled, with the team looking to implement it in the near future.

NHS Sustainability Day is an annual awareness event for NHS organisations around the country to celebrate and showcase how they are working towards a greener and more sustainable future.

To mark the day, University Hospital Southampton is holding a mini sustainability fair to showcase current and future green projects and raise awareness for how staff can make a difference in their departments.