The 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) took place just 50 miles west of eoSurgical HQ in Edinburgh. Acting to avert the impending climate change disaster is going to take a combination of political, industrial, societal, and personal change – all well as yet unseen innovation.
When it comes to climate impact, health care delivery has not been scrutinised enough. Countries or companies contributing to carbon emissions and climate change are frequently named and shamed. If global healthcare were a country, it would be the fifth biggest contributor worldwide. As with so many inequitable aspects of life, it is the richer countries enjoying the luxury of high-quality healthcare, that are particularly culpable in terms of planetary harm. The National Health Service in the UK, of which we are so rightly proud, is responsible for over a third of the UK’s public sector carbon emissions. Amongst specialties, surgery is disproportionately guilty.
There is an urgent need to seek ways to reduce waste, to return to reusable instruments whenever possible, and to reduce packaging. Some of these changes will need to come from the industries who support healthcare and surgeons, as customers, can help to drive this change. 10% of carbon emissions generated by NHS activity are due to staff commute and patient and visitor travel. Telemedicine that became a pandemic-driven necessity ought, arguably, become the default in any setting where it is safe.
Here at eoSurgical.com, we continue to try our best to reduce our impact. Our packaging is, in large part, an immediate recycling of upstream suppliers’ packaging. It is fully recyclable after our customers unpack their simulator. We have eliminated all plastic foam, have opted for paper tapes to further reduce plastic use, and offset carbon emissions generated by our delivery partners. Prior to the pandemic, we moved the majority of company work to an online setting and therefore stopped the need to heat and maintain an office. At the time we felt innovative, though the pandemic has now made this model the norm for many companies! We will continue to try to do better, as must all those involved in healthcare.
Consultant Neurosurgeon and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Edinburgh