Gloucestershire surgeries leading the way to make NHS greener

By Steve Knibbs & Harriet RobinsonBBC News, Gloucestershire

BBC Laura Gelder-Robertson sitting at a desk speaking to a practitioner at Berkeley Place SurgeryBBC

Laura Gelder-Robertson (L) said a “big part” of sustainability efforts is “behaviour change”

A group of medical practices has been described as “nationally-leading” in efforts to make the NHS greener.

Surgeries across Gloucestershire have teamed up to offer sustainable solutions for their patients and staff.

One of the switches at Berkeley Place Surgery in Cheltenham is a dry powder asthma inhaler, which uses up to 45 times less C02 than a traditional one.

“People aren’t intending to harm the planet but they’re missing those steps that they could easily be making,” said Laura Gelder-Robertson, who has been advising the clinics.

Head and shoulders shot of Andrew Kings in blue scrubs with his name on

Andrew Kings said “The more [eco-friendly inhalers] used and produced, the more the price will come down”

Andrew Kings, a clinical pharmacist at Berkeley Place, explained the new inhalers do not have any gas in them and contain “significantly less C02”.

“It’s been quite surprising actually, overall people are really happy and keen to use a greener inhaler, particularly when they understand the significant different between the two.”

Despite a slightly higher cost for the pharmacy, he said: “We think that the slight cost implication is worth it for the massive environmental benefits.”

Bradley Belfit standing in a pharmacy holding an asthma inhaler, he is wearing a black zip-up jacket

Patient Bradley Belfit said his new inhaler was “a different thing to get used to, but the effect is the same”

Patient Bradley Belfit, who had just picked up his second new-style inhaler from Berkeley Place, said: “Ultimately, if its better for the environment and less toxicity, it’s better for everyone.”

Head and shoulders shot of Dr Olesya Atkinson in blue scrubs with her name on

Dr Atkinson explained the surgery was also “really keen on green social prescribing”, including setting up a walking group

Dr Olesya Atkinson, GP partner at Berkeley Place, explained other changes that had been made.

Their couch roll – a roll of paper used to cover furniture patients used – was made from “special non-bleached paper” with a carbon neutral footprint which was recyclable, she explained.

“They’re small changes but they are all things everyone can do in our practice and it saves us money as a business,” she added.

Other changes included replacing single-use instruments with reusable metal ones, only using gloves if absolutely necessary, switching to suppliers with a lower carbon footprint and turning off all electricity before the weekend.

Dr Atkinson in blue scrubs standing near and sink and holding blue rubber gloves

“They’re small changes but they are all things everyone can do in our practice and it saves us money as a business,” said Dr Atkinson

The surgery had also run workshops for other practices around the county.

“In Gloucestershire we’re really pushing the boundaries so that everybody’s becoming more aware of how important [sustainability] is,” said Dr Atkinson, who is also a clinical director for Cheltenham Central Primary Care Network.

She said the “simple steps” could be done by any practice in the country.

“What’s good for the planet generally is what’s good for people’s health. That’s where it’s been possible to start those conversations,” she said.

Laura Gelder-Robertson who has short hair and is wearing a white jumper, smiling

Ms Gelder-Robertson said practitioners across the county were making efforts to improve sustainability

Laura Gelder-Robertson, an assessor at the Institute for Sustainable Leadership at Cambridge University, has been working with six practices in the county to educate them about environmental issues.

“They’ve done a brilliant job,” she said, calling them “nationally leading”.

“Sometimes it feels like they’re just small [changes], but you’ve got 10,000 patients in most practices. It soon scales up.”

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