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Breathe Easy: Lower carbon meds help make healthcare greener

Organisation: Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust
Location: Sussex

Evolving Care

What's the idea?

NHS England’s South-East Regional Greener NHS team are working in partnership with NHS Sussex, Kent and Medway ICB and Frimley ICB to launch GP and patient-facing videos to raise awareness of Dry-powdered inhalers (DPI) instead of Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI’s).

The videos advocate the use of more sustainable DPI’s for respiratory conditions, encouraging both patients and clinicians who can prescribe, to make the switch when clinically appropriate. With real patients featured, the videos help address any concerns a patient may have about making a switch to their inhalers.

MDI’s use a gas trigger, which propels medication from the inhaler to the lungs. The gas propellant can leak into the air when used. These inhalers contain a greenhouse gas in the propellant that contributes to climate change. A single inhaler can have a carbon footprint equivalent to a journey by car from Brighton to Birmingham – more than 170 miles.

blue inhaler

Impact of the project

Reducing carbon pollution

In Sussex alone we prescribe about 1.3 million inhalers a year and 73% are pMDIs. This creates over 20,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year which is the equivalent of the energy used in one year for 2,500 homes.
towers with smoke/pollution being released

Easier for patients

Dry Powder Inhalers (DPIs) don't need the hand-breath coordination of a pressurized MDI so some people find them easier to use. The medicine is released when you take a deep, fast breath from the inhaler.
pink and white dry powder inhaler on white table

How you could implement a similar idea

As a Clinician you can talk to your patients about the inhalers they use to see if it is appropriate to make a switch. You can discuss the environmental impact of MDI’s.

Network with partner organisations to see if you can combine resources to develop your own materials to share with patients the benefits of choosing medicines with lower carbon pollution levels.

Resources to get you started

Here are some great educational videos about switching to Dry-powder inhalers - South East Greener NHS inhaler videos - YouTube

Interested in supporting a Net Zero Carbon NHS? Add your voice to support the call for Net Zero Carbon Healthcare. The more voices we have, the bigger impact it will have.


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