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  3. Hospital performs first UK net-zero operation

A recent operation performed at the NHS University Hospital in Birmingham was the first net-zero operation in the UK, and it could be a world first.

Hospital operating theatres are resource intensive, contributing to around a quarter of a hospital's carbon emissions. The Birmingham hospital wanted to see if it could reduce the carbon footprint of an operation. The two surgeons performing a bowel operation normally commute to the hospital by car, but one cycled and the other ran for this operation. Instead of disposable PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), they used reusable caps, gowns, drapes and other teams. Liquid anaesthetic replaced anaesthetic gas, and overnight lighting and heating were reduced.

A team of experts from Birmingham University by Dr Dmitri Nepogodiev developed a tool to calculate the carbon emissions used for the operation, and it measured an 80% carbon reduction. The final 20% of carbon emissions were offset by planting three trees on the hospital grounds. The net-zero operation is the first in NHS hospitals and is believed to be the first in the world.

In a statement, the Director of Researched at Bowel Research UK, Dr Lesley Booth, said:

"Reducing the environmental impact of surgery is hugely important to improving health more broadly."

Scientists say that carbon emissions contribute to climate change, and also having a significant impact on health. Organisations are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. The Birmingham hospital project has demonstrated ways to reduce carbon emissions by not using cars to travel to work, reusing PPE and illuminating workspaces with low-energy lighting.

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