Help to decide the most important topics to research to make operations greener

The Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) is supporting Greener Operations, a James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership, which aims to identify important research questions that need to be answered in order to help make operations (including surgery, anaesthesia, and healthcare provided around the time of an operation) more environmentally sustainable.

Operations are among the most resource-intensive of healthcare interventions; each operating theatre creates around two tonnes of waste per year, and a single operation can generate a carbon footprint equivalent to driving more than 2,000 miles*.

The NHS is responsible for 4% of the UK’s national carbon footprint and has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040. It is recognised that in order to do this, we need to make operations greener.

Last year, AHSN NENC contacts contributed to an initial survey which generated over 1,500 potential research questions about environmentally sustainable perioperative care. Since then, the Greener Operations team has reviewed the suggestions, checked them against existing research, and developed 60 ‘indicative questions’ which represent the themes of the suggestions from the initial survey.

Greener Operations is now inviting patients, carers, members of the public and clinicians to have their say on which of the indicative questions they think are most important via an online survey. This will be used to produce a shortlist of questions which will be discussed in-depth at the final priority setting workshop in London on 15th June. The final output will be a ‘top ten’ list of research questions in environmentally sustainable peri-operative care.

If you would like to find out more and contribute to this work, please follow Greener Operations on Twitter, visit their website, and complete the latest survey. The final workshop will involve participants from various healthcare professions, patients, carers, and members of the public – if you may be interested in participating in the final workshop, details and an expression of interest form are provided on the survey page.

The survey is open now and will close at 12:00 midday on 30th May 2022.

 The James Lind Alliance is a non-profit making initiative, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, which brings patients, carers and clinicians together in order to identify important unanswered research questions.

*Source: Rizan, Chantelle, Steinbach, Ingeborg, Nicholson, Rosamond, Lillywhite, Rob, Reed, Malcolm and Bhutta, Mahmood F (2020) The carbon footprint of surgical operations: a systematic review. Annals of Surgery, 272 (6). pp. 986-995.

For more information, please contact Dr Sean Gill, Programme Manager at AHSN NENC.