University Hospitals Sussex (UHSussex) is leading the way in sustainable health care by being the first NHS Trust in the UK to use a new sustainable, economical and environmentally friendly sterilisation machine.
The new machine, which is based at the Royal Sussex County Hospital’s Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department, sterilises small telescopes that doctors use to look inside a patient’s ear, nose or throat faster and more efficiently than before.
This is helping to cut the department’s carbon output by more than 6,000 kg each year, which is the same as planting 200 trees.
As well benefitting the planet, the steriliser has also already demonstrated significant benefits to patients, as Professor Mahmood Bhutta, Consultant ENT Surgeon and the Trust’s Clinical Lead for Environmental Sustainability, explains.
“The steriliser uses ultraviolet light, which makes the decontamination process considerably shorter – sterilising in just 60 seconds. This means turnaround times for the scopes is shorter, which increases capacity and reduces waiting times for patients in clinic.
“Using UV light also limits any damage to the telescopes by avoiding chemicals or steam and because the steriliser is inside the department, we are not transporting the scopes far for disinfection, which means less risk of damage to the scopes while they are transferred.”
Since using this new machine, the department has seen a drastic cut in the number of repairs to scopes from about nine each month, to just one in over six months, significantly reducing costs.
“Fewer breakages means that fewer clinics are cancelled when scopes are being repaired,” added Professor Bhutta.
UHSussex now plans to review and potentially roll out the equipment to its other hospital sites, as part of supporting the NHS to become the world’s first net zero health service through its Patient First, Planet First initiative.
Karen Geoghegan is the Trust’s Chief Financial Officer and Environmental Sustainability lead. She explains the importance of living within our means and providing high quality services through optimising the use of resources.
She said: “Through our environmental and sustainability plans, we hope to minimise the environmental impact of hospital waste and enhance the wellbeing of patients, staff and the community. We firmly believe that investing in a cost-effective, sustainable future is crucial for people and the planet.
“Together, our ambitions are to deliver a greener NHS in Sussex that cares for our planet and enables us to secure a better, healthier life for generations to come.”