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Health professional leaders call for action to reduce environmental impact of medicine prescribing

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Three leading healthcare bodies in Scotland have called for action to reduce the environmental impact caused by medicine prescribing.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland have all urged policymakers to enable a more sustainable approach to prescribing.

This includes prioritizing the introduction of electronic prescribing across the NHS, introducing the requirement for an environmental impact in NHS medicines procurement and improving the availability of data about the environmental impact of medicines.

“We call on Scottish government, including the chief medical officer, to enable the delivery of a realistic medicine approach to prescribing by developing a supportive infrastructure for green social prescribing across Scotland,” said the healthcare professionals in a joint statement.

They have called on the pharmaceutical industry to make information about the environmental impact of medicines readily available in a standardized data format.

The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) are also been urged to make information about the environmental impact of medicines available in their guidelines.

“We call on education providers to support prescribers by including environmental sustainability in education and training for health professionals.

“We call for fresh thinking and innovation within the NHS and NHS suppliers in areas such as reducing medicines waste, reducing the use of paper, plastics and unnecessary packaging, and increasing recycling.”

“The professional leadership bodies for prescribers also recognise their responsibility in supporting prescribers to reduce their environmental impact and in doing so, commit to encouraging prescribers to take a Realistic Medicine approach to prescribing by involving patients in prescribing decisions and reducing unnecessary prescribing, and also promoting the increasing use of green social prescribing initiatives,” said RPS.

Commenting on the publication of the joint statementClare Morrison, RPS director for Scotland, said: “Health professionals in Scotland have chosen to come together to create a new national movement to reduce the environmental harm of prescribing and medicines use. Now we are calling on others to join us: Scottish Government, producers of NHS guidelines, the pharmaceutical industry, all health and care professionals, and of course patients.

“Every one of us needs to take action to tackle climate change. What this joint statement demonstrates is how seriously we are taking the climate crisis: we can no longer assume someone else will take responsibility, we must all play our part.

“As professional leadership bodies, we believe that by acting together and focusing on the key areas described in our statement, we can and we will make a difference that will contribute to net zero and reduce the ecological harm from medicines.

“We call on other health professional leadership bodies to join us and sign up to the joint statement.”

 

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