Skip to main content Skip to footer

Bringing down the carbon footprint in the NHS

Delivering more environmentally sustainable care

A programme to reduce the carbon footprint of NHS Scotland and enable more environmentally sustainable care has been launched.

The National Green Theatres Programme, developed by clinicians, will cut the high emissions and waste typically generated in surgery while maintaining the highest levels of patient safety and quality of care.

The first set of actions will help NHS Scotland meet its net zero target by 2040 and reduce carbon emissions by 7,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent 4,400 single passenger return flights from Glasgow to New York.

The programme features a number of measures, all of which can be made without impacting patient safety or standards of care, including:

  • removing anaesthetic gases from the supply chain
  • moving away from single use instruments/consumables
  • introducing waste segregation
  • switching from pre-operative intravenous to oral paracetamol

The programme is being rolled out across the country following a successful pilot in NHS Highland.

Visiting the green theatre at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport Maree Todd said:

“The roll out of the Green Theatres Programme is a very positive step in the right direction to making our NHS net zero by 2040.
“Our incredible NHS staff have worked tirelessly to develop a model that not only puts patients and their safety first, but will reduce our environmental impact.”

Dr Kenneth Barker, Centre for Sustainable Delivery (CfSD) Clinical Lead for the National Green Theatres Programme said:

“Our patients always comes first but it’s great that we are now making clinically safe patient care decisions with sustainability in mind.
“Theatres are high carbon and energy intensive areas that produce high volumes of waste, so reducing their environmental impact will make a positive difference toward achieving Scotland's net zero targets.
“We are working with our National Green Theatres Specialty Delivery Group and national partners to support Boards to implement these actions and are developing a Green Map to monitor progress.”

Watch our video to find out more about the National Green Theatres Programme.

This press release was issued by the Scottish Government on 26 May 2023.

Posted: May 26, 2023

Back to all news