WA axes high emissions anaesthetic gas

2 minute read

WA Health aims to reduce its contribution to greenhouse emissions by 80% below 2020 levels by 2030 and net zero by 2050.

Common anaesthetic desflurane will be formally removed from the WA statewide medicines formulary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The removal is part of WA Health’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with state government targets (80% below 2020 levels by 2030 and net zero by 2050).

Desflurane has been identified as a potent greenhouse gas, with 2540 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide. The WA Therapeutics Advisory Group and WA Drug Evaluation Panel have endorsed the delisting of desflurane.

“When you consider the logistics involved in delivering care to people around our vast state, it is not surprising a considerable level of emissions are attributable to the health sector,” said Dr Andrew Robertson, WA’s chief health officer.

“We need to do everything we can to reduce this footprint, and with clinicians we’re looking at ground-breaking and practical ways to make our health system as low carbon as possible, while delivering high-quality care to patients.

“Clinical care, including pharmaceuticals, is responsible for a significant portion of the carbon emissions of the health sector.

“We are developing a strategy to set clear policy objectives and actions to build a climate-resilient and sustainable health system.”

The change was spurred by a clinician-led movement to switch to safer and more effective drugs that are better for the environment. Dr Adam Crossley, Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group’s medical lead for climate health and environmental sustainability, said the change was a bottom-up campaign from staff.

“While the team at FSFHG are proud leaders in climate health, this truly was a collaborative effort across WA Health, taking inspiration from various groups and initiatives,” said Dr Crossley.

“Through this project we brought together our clinical expertise and sustainability champions, with the common goal of reducing our carbon footprint.

“We are committed to being more environmentally friendly while also maintaining the highest level of patient care.

“Seeing this initiative rolled out statewide really demonstrates we’re on the right track to a more sustainable future in healthcare.”

Do you have a story tip for us, or a topic you would like to see us cover? Contact the editor at editor@healthservicesdaily.com.au.

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