NHS England has commissioned the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) to develop guidance that helps community and hospital pharmacy teams across Britain to reduce the impact of pharmacy services, pharmaceutical care and medicines on the environment.
The RPS said the Greener Pharmacy Guidance will enable pharmacies to self-assess their impact against the standards, benchmark and improve through evidence-based activities and actions.
“I’m delighted our strong commitment to helping pharmacy reduce its environmental impact can now be taken to the next level through developing guidance and accreditation for pharmacy teams,” RPS president Professor Claire Anderson said.
“Medicines account for 25 per cent of carbon emissions within the NHS and this initiative underscores our commitment to promoting sustainable healthcare and supporting the NHS’s goal of achieving ‘net zero’ emissions by 2040.”
Peter Morgan, medicines assistant director at NHS England, commented: “Pharmacy staff are involved in the purchasing and dispensing of almost every medicine used in the NHS and the new Greener Pharmacy Guidance and Self-accreditation scheme will provide support for pharmacy professionals by outlining clear actions to deliver more environmentally sustainable pharmacy practices.”
The RPS said the guidance and digital self-assessment toolkit will integrate with carbon calculator tools to help pharmacy teams to measure their carbon footprint, action plan to reduce use of carbon and improve sustainability.
Key elements will include advice on medicines supply, usage and disposal as well as influencing service users with information on how to improve compliance and change from high-carbon products to lower environmental impact alternatives where appropriate.
The guidance will prompt simple measures that all teams can take to be accredited and mark their sustainability status and encourage further action to build on work underway.
“We want to support teams to identify areas where they can make sustainable changes to decrease the environmental impact of the services and clinical care they provide. Pharmacy can make a huge contribution to the goal of making health services more environmentally sustainable and this guidance and accreditation scheme will help us all move towards ‘net zero’,” Elen Jones, director lead for the RPS environmental sustainability programme, said.
Minna Eii, co-founder of Pharmacy Declares and lead author for the RPS guidance, added: “Many staff and organisations in the UK are looking for ways to reduce their environmental impacts but are unsure where to start. This pharmacy green accreditation scheme will be a great tool for all pharmacies to help the NHS meet its ‘net zero’ ambition and guide individuals that are just starting on this journey.”
The guidelines will be drafted after a literature search and a consultation will run during October for feedback. The guidance will then be piloted and the full scheme will launch by Spring 2024.