Pharmacy teams that take steps towards improving the sustainability of their pharmacy will be eligible for gold, silver or bronze badges, under proposals for greener pharmacy guides.
Under the scheme, drawn up by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), pharmacy teams working in community and hospital pharmacy can follow a range of actions to help the NHS meet its net zero targets and self-accredit their pharmacy’s sustainability status.
A consultation on two separate guides — one for hospital pharmacy and one for community pharmacy — was published by the RPS on 11 October 2023.
Under six domains contained in each of the guides — people, clinical practice, travel, resource use, information and communications technology, and operations and strategy — pharmacy teams can take actions ranging from raising awareness among healthcare staff and patients that they should not pour pharmaceuticals or chemicals down sinks, toilets or drains, to encouraging patients to adopt a meat-free and plant-forward diet, to reporting the amount of desflurane stock left in hospital sites.
In January 2023, NHS England announced that desflurane, which has the highest global warming potential of all anaesthetic gases, will be decommissioned by early 2024.
To help pharmacy teams implement the measures contained in the guides and record this work, the RPS said it will launch an online toolkit in spring 2024.
Staff will be able to upload images, submit evidence and write reflections on their progress in the three levels of action (bronze, silver or gold), resulting in a corresponding badge of achievement.
The Society was awarded a contract to produce the guides and toolkit by NHS England in May 2023.
In a blog posted alongside the consultation, Minna Eii, co-founder of sustainability campaigning group ‘Pharmacy Declares’ and greener pharmacy project consultant at the RPS, said: “Pharmacies leave a carbon footprint that contributes to global warming and various ecological challenges… from activities such as energy consumption, transportation and waste generation.”
Eii added that the actions recommended in the RPS greener pharmacy guides offer more than just environmental benefits for patients and staff.
“They come with a range of co-benefits, including saving time and reducing costs [and] can improve the health of pharmacy staff and the wider population [by] addressing critical issues like overprescribing and antimicrobial resistance,” she said.
“By actively participating in the development of the Greener Pharmacy Guide and shaping its content based on your experiences and insights, you can contribute to pioneering work that could serve as a model for healthcare systems around the world.”
The consultation will run until 8 November 2023.