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Healthcare professionals in Scotland meet to tackle impact of prescribing on environment

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Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Royal College of General Practitioners in Scotland hosted an event celebrating the collaborative work of the health professions and policy makers in Scotland on reducing the environmental harm from prescribing and medicines use.

To share priorities for the Scottish Government, Alpana Mair, Head of Effective Therapeutics and Prescribing spoke and National Clinical Director Jason Leitch appeared virtually. Gillian MacKay MSP, Scottish Greens spokesperson for Health and Social Care also joined in-person.

Medicines account for around 25% of the NHS’s carbon emissions and have an ecological impact when they enter our wastewater system or our rivers and oceans. Tackling the impact of prescribing will be a key part of meeting the ambition of a net zero NHS Scotland by 2040 at the latest.

Together, RCGP Scotland and RPS have held two roundtable events on sustainable prescribing, and in June 2022, released a joint statement calling for a wide range of actions, which was signed by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the College of Radiographers, Royal College of Nursing, Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland and Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Continuing the work of RPS at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, the event aims to mark an opportunity for health professionals and decision makers alike to join a global movement of sustainability in healthcare, and pledge to continue the important work of cutting the climate impact of medicine use while maintaining the highest level of patient care and safety.

Laura Wilson, RPS Director for Scotland said, “I’m proud of the role RPS Scotland is playing, together with prescribing professional leadership bodies across Scotland, to highlight the huge potential that exists to reduce carbon emissions by prescribing in a greener and more sustainable way.

“At this event, we hope to secure even more support from partners who will commit to joining our international movement for sustainable prescribing.

Dr David Shackles, Joint Chair of RCGP Scotland, said, “Our health is inextricably linked to the health of the planet, so good health care should strive to be environmentally sustainable care.
“Collaboration is key if we are to truly tackle the health systems impact on climate emergency.

“This event is a welcome opportunity to share best practice and learning across all parts of the health service, to encourage more progress across all decision-making levels, and to give recognition to the pioneers of the sustainable prescribing movement.”

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