Anaesthetic practices are a significant contributor to the NHS carbon footprint. Desflurane, a volatile anaesthetic used for surgery, is 2,540 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than an equivalent mass of CO2. In the acute sector, nitrous oxide, another gas with a high global warming potential accounted for 80% of the total anaesthetic gas footprint of 2019/20.
NHS England, with the support of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Association of Anaesthetists, has committed to stopping the use of desflurane – an anaesthetic gas used in surgery - by early 2024. West Yorkshire trusts have made great progress in stopping the use of desflurane aiming to have completely stopped use during 2023.
Acute trusts in West Yorkshire are reviewing how they store and deliver nitrous oxide to reduce leaks as this can reduce the environmental impact of nitrous oxide without impacting clinical care. Trusts will also be similarly reviewing Entonox and exploring the potential of cracking technology. Data can be accessed through the Greener NHS Dashboard (accessed via NHSE applications) and you can find further useful resources to assist this below:
The NHS Futures - Greener NHS Knowledge Hub hosts resources such as the nitrous oxide toolkit and patient information