2023 | Volume 24 | Issue 6


The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has partnered in a collaboration led by the UK Health Alliance to bring together the surgical colleges from England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the US to produce the Green Surgery Report. This is a blueprint for reducing the environmental impact of surgical care while maintaining the highest standards for our patients.

Dr Ben Dunne, a thoracic surgeon, who represented RACS as a co-badging organisation on the report said RACS was pleased to have been part of the process.

“The report provides vital information and a blueprint for surgical organisations and teams internationally. It takes an evidence-based approach to reducing the environmental impact of surgery while maintaining the highest standards of patient care.

“The Green Surgery Report supports the direction we are taking, as RACS has a strong history of advocating for reducing the carbon footprint in operating theatres and hospitals,” Dr Dunne says.

RACS is the first medical college in Australia to sign up to the newly released Green College Report developed by Doctors for the Environment Australia in collaboration with the Australian Medical Association. The guidelines provide suggestions to medical colleges on how they can reduce the carbon emissions by incorporating practical changes to the way they operate. The guidelines also support colleges to develop resources for their Fellows and members and embed an understanding on how to practice in an environmentally sustainable way.

Earlier RACS released a position paper—in collaboration with the Australian College of Perioperative Nurses and the Australasian College of Infection Prevention and Control—outlining the environmental benefits of reusable sterile surgical gowns over single-use surgical gowns, emphasising the equivalent infection prevention outcomes with both. (Blueprint launched to reduce the environmental footprint in surgery globally)

We are pleased to see action is being taken to reduce the environmental impact of anaesthesia and applaud the decision taken in Western Australia to remove Desflurane (a highly potent greenhouse gas) from the public formulary.

Surgeons must work towards reducing the environmental impact of the care they provide, while ensuring and maintaining excellence in surgical outcomes.

RACS has been a supporter of the Lancet Commission on Climate and Health, which advocates for emission reductions. In its ongoing work, RACS calls on surgeons and hospitals to consider the principles of effective sustainable healthcare and take suitable steps to reduce the impact of surgery on the environment, underpinned by the five Rs:
•    Reduce
•    Reuse
•    Recycle
•    Rethink
•    Research.

The Green Surgery Report was launched on 14 November 2023, and although the report was led by UK based organisations, it is relevant to surgical teams globally.

Read more about RACS work in reducing the environmental footprint in surgery.