Environmental champions | Association of Anaesthetists
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Environmental champions network

Environmental champions network

With increasing focus around sustainability and the environmental implications of healthcare and our clinical practice, the environmental champions network aims to maintain links and facilitate communications between members and the Association on these important matters. 

The Association undertakes many important initiatives which have a profound influence on the way anaesthetists practice. To be effective these require continuing participation and input from all members. The environmental champions network will help coordinate local participation and implantation of our national initiatives.

Becoming an environmental champion

We are looking for at least one anaesthetist to volunteer from every hospital in the UK & Ireland. If you are interested in supporting your department in this role please download this application form and send it to secretariat@anaesthetists.org.

Latest updates:

Work happening currently

NHS Net Zero Targets

The big news of October was the announcement by the NHS of moving forward their target of achieving net zero carbon emissions to 2040 (direct emissions) and 2045 (indirect emissions). Once again anaesthetics has been specifically mentioned as part of direct emissions that need urgent reduction. The Association continues to work with anaesthetists and other parties such as the Sustainable Development Unit to gather data and promote ways to achieve this target. A large part of reaching this target will also be down to local and regional initiatives and innovations, not just top-down policy, and in that regard, you as environmental champions play a vital role.

Nitrous Oxide reduction

Nitrous oxide use continues to make a significant contribution to the carbon footprint of the NHS. A variety of ways to reduce this, including exploring cracking technology and alternatives are being looked into currently. There is also emerging evidence that nitrous oxide wastage from leaking manifold supplies in some hospitals makes up a “hidden” component of nitrous oxide emissions. Guidance is in progress regarding this and how you might go about checking usage in your own hospital. If anywhere is already making progress with nitrous oxide reduction strategies, then I would be grateful to hear about your experiences.

Reusable vs disposable

With increasing information available on the carbon footprint of healthcare and on life cycle assessments, assessing the impact of pieces of equipment or pharmaceuticals is becoming more achievable. We are looking to expand the information we have on those items related to anaesthetic practice, with a particular interest in reusable vs disposable equipment. There has been some excellent work done by Miss Chantelle Rizan from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare relating to surgical equipment, and this will hopefully help to build data on anaesthetic equipment as well.

What you can do to help us

Our aim remains to have an environmental champion in every department nationwide. Whilst we have a very encouraging amount of you already signed up, please do urge others in your region to sign up.

A map on the Association website is in production, aiming to give a visual overview of which hospitals champions are located at, which will hopefully make it easier for interested parties to contact you.

Hopefully over the course of the next few months, we will be able to ask you all as champions to aid in national data collection, particularly at the moment looking at Nitrous Oxide use, as well as outlining other areas of work you could consider contributing too. More details to follow!

What we can do for you

The Association has been clear about our role and responsibility towards you all, but we appreciate that over the last few months, primarily due to the shift in focus to Covid-19, we have not, as yet, met all of those commitments. Moving forwards, our aim is to very much support you all - chiefly, with more regular communication!

Chris Allen

Fellow in Environmentally Sustainable Anaesthesia for the Association of Anaesthetists and Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

Environmental champions charter

This sets out the basis for the relationship between the environmental champions and the Association of Anaesthetists.

The Association will:

  • Keep champions regularly informed about network projects and the activity of the Environment and Sustainability Committee (via e-newsletters)
  • Provide champions with suitable promotional materials for educational events, national campaign days (such as Sustainability Day and Clean Air Day) and for other purposes as may occur from time to time
  • Be responsive in a timely manner to requests from champions for information and advice
  • Invite champions to attend (virtually) environment sessions at our major meetings, whenever possible

The Association recognises that there are often others, such as trainees and supporting anaesthetic staff, who are involved in data collection for  larger projects. Whilst they will not be named as the environmental champion we encourage such team work and will recognise contributions made by all staff to this network by means of an official letter of thanks.

Champions will:

  • Be a current member of the Association
  • Provide an up-to-date email address which is checked regularly 
  • Aim to attend an environment session at one of our major meetings (virtually, or in person), each year (when available)
  • Respond to requests for, and be responsible for collection and submission of, data from your hospital that has been requested by the Association to collate a national dataset for sustainability topics and feed results back to your department
  • Respond to local members queries and concerns around the environment and sustainability and where appropriate pass them on to the Association
  • Help to raise the profile of the environmental and sustainability work of the Association by dissemination of information from us in relation to national campaigns (such as Sustainability Day and Clean Air Day) and educational events from the Association 
  • Keep the Environment and Sustainability Committee informed of local ideas, progress and examples of sustainable projects that have been successfully embedded in your department and when possible use these to populate case studies on the environment section of our web pages
  • Ensure that the role of environment champion is self-sustaining and establish the next champion within your Trust before stepping down and notify the Association of the change

There may be a need for more than one champion within your Trust/Board depending on how the department is organised. If you feel this to be the case, please get in touch with us to discuss further.

The Environment and Sustainability Committee does not have specific funding for environmental champions and the work performed by them. The Association hugely appreciates work undertaken by the champions and to show our thanks we will arrange complimentary virtual attendance to the environment sessions at our major congresses (when available) via live webinar/streaming. We also send a letter which can be used as portfolio evidence.

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