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A simple swap saves carbon in eye surgery

SASH NHS Trust are working hard to reduce carbon emissions associated with healthcare, in line with the Greener NHS agenda. Making changes to all aspects of how care is delivered can play a part, as this great example for the SASH ophthalmology team demonstrates.

A simple swap saves carbon in eye surgery

Celebrating the ways we can adapt clinical practice

The delivery of care, in particular the use of pharmaceuticals brings with it a high carbon footprint. Luke Herbert and Guy Negretti, Consultant Ophthalmologists at SaSH decided that they would like to do something to help reduce the carbon impact of retinal surgery.

Retinal surgery uses SF6 (sulphur hexafluoride) and other fluorinated gasses in the eye. SF6 has a greenhouse gas effect of approximately 23000 times the effect of CO2 and can last in our atmosphere for thousands of years.

Luke and Guy stopped using SF6 except in most unusual cases for this reason, and instead use C2F6 and C3F8 that have lower equivalent carbon emissions and a shorter lifespan in our atmosphere, therefore helping to tackle the problems of climate change. The change does not reduce the level of care for the patient.

In addition Luke and Guy decided to reduce the use of 30ml containers of 100% gas that waste to the air approximately 29ml of 100% gas, and instead moved to using in most cases pre-diluted gasses that waste around 4ml equivalent, so less gas is going into the atmosphere in simply trying to use it, also helping to reduce the carbon impact of treatment.

Everyone can play a part

If you have any ideas about how your team could make changes to reduce impact on the environment email hello@carewithoutcarbon.org as the Care Without Carbon team are keen to support teams in this, and to gather in case studies to inspire others.

As well as big work based changes, everyone can make a small individual change to help reduce their impact on the environment to support Care Without Carbon through the ongoing Dare to Care programme at SaSH. Just click here, select SASH from the list and choose which of the pledges available you would most like to try.