Healthcare leaders unite for more sustainable prescribing

On 27 June, the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society will host an event celebrating the collaborative work of the health professions and policymakers in Scotland on reducing the environmental harm from prescribing and medicines use. 

Medicines account for around 25% of the NHS’s carbon emissions, and have an ecological impact when they enter our wastewater system or our rivers and oceans. Tackling the impact of prescribing will be a key part of meeting the ambition of a net zero NHS Scotland by 2040 at the latest. 

Together, RCGP Scotland and RPS have held two roundtable events on sustainable prescribing. In June 2022, they released a joint statement calling for a wide range of actions. It was signed by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the College of Radiographers, Royal College of Nursing, Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland and Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Achieving a transition to more sustainable prescribing will require collaboration between the Scottish Government, health professionals from all disciplines, NHS Scotland, the pharmaceutical industry, education providers, other decision-making bodies, and patients alike.

The event will be chaired by Gillian Mackay MSP, Scottish Green Spokesperson for Health and Social Care. To share priorities for the Scottish Government, Alpana Mair, Head of Effective Therapeutics and Prescribing will speak, and National Clinical Director Jason Leitch will appear virtually. 

Continuing the work of RPS at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, this event marks an opportunity for health professionals and decision makers alike to join a global movement of sustainability in healthcare. They may then pledge to continue the important work of cutting the climate impact of medicine use while maintaining the highest level of patient care and safety. 

Dr David Shackles, Joint Chair of RCGP Scotland, said:

“Our health is inextricably linked to the health of the planet, so good health care should strive to be environmentally sustainable care.

"Collaboration is key if we are to truly tackle the health systems impact on climate emergency. This event is a welcome opportunity to share best practice and learning across all parts of the health service, to encourage more progress across all decision-making levels, and to give recognition to the pioneers of the sustainable prescribing movement."

Laura Wilson, RPS Director for Scotland said, “I’m proud of the role RPS Scotland is playing, together with prescribing professional leadership bodies across Scotland, to highlight the huge potential that exists to reduce carbon emissions by prescribing in a greener and more sustainable way.

“At this event, we hope to secure even more support from partners who will commit to joining our international movement for sustainable prescribing. “Thank you to everyone for joining us this evening. Together our actions will make a real difference and support our net zero ambitions for healthcare, both across Scotland and the world.”

Further information

Media requests to Anita Azavedo, RCGP Scotland Policy and Public Relations Officer.

Tel: 07741 669325

Notes to editor

RCGP Scotland represents a network of around 5,000 doctors in Scotland aiming to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standard of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on resources, education, training, research and clinical standards.