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  4. Green Surgery Report: Introduction

Green Surgery Report: Introduction

Why take action to reduce the carbon footprint of surgical care?

Read Section 1 of the Green Surgery Report

Section Highlights

Climate change is the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century.

Healthcare provision contributes to ~4.4% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

Surgical care is a major area of resource consumption, with the carbon footprint of surgical care in the UK in 2019 estimated at 5.7 million tonnes CO2e

Carbon hotspots in the operating theatre include anaesthetic gases, energy, and products (particularly single-use).

There are known labour rights abuses within the supply chain of products used in surgical care.

Sustainable surgery involves providing high-quality, high-value surgical care in a way that is environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable.

The NHS, alongside the healthcare systems of 27 other countries have committed to Net Zero Carbon targets; the majority of UK healthcare staff and the public support this ambition.

Section Recommendations

(1) Raise awareness of links between human and planetary health, and sources of greenhouse gas emissions in surgery

(2) When designing healthcare interventions, consider impact on environmental, financial, and social sustainability whilst maintaining or improving patient and population outcomes