Celebrating sustainability this Greener AHP Week

Categories: School of Health and Society

This week (17 – 24 April 2023) marks the first ever Greener AHP Week. The NHS and other UK health and care organisations contribute around 4% of all UK emissions, so ensuring healthcare is as sustainable as possible is key to tackling climate change. 

This week is an opportunity to showcase and celebrate what allied health professionals (AHPs) are doing around environmental sustainability. Working alongside the University Sustainability team, the Podiatry team in the university’s School of Health and Society is aiming to reduce single use plastic (SUP) consumption.

So far, the team has:

  • Swapped to biodegradable plastic aprons in the Podiatry Clinic 
  • Reduced the use of general small waste bags by switching to small bins that can be emptied after each clinical session 
  • Stopped the use of plastic backed clinical surface sheets 
  • Sourced new clinical instrument washer-disinfector machines that use less water and do not use paper to record the washing cycle 
  • Sourced new sharps bins made from a low carbon footprint recycled material 
  • Ensured that whenever purchasing new kit/clinic consumables that the most eco-friendly/sustainable items are sourced.

The team also recently developed some sustainable clinical teaching resources – a set of 3D printed feet, made from recycled plastic, that students can use to practice their scalpel work skills on in the first weeks of their clinical training – this has reduced the use of less sustainable materials that were traditionally used for this purpose. 

The Podiatry teaching team work to ensure that we provide/promote and teach evidence-based practice, which has meant a reduction in the prescription of foot orthoses (made from plastic-based material that is not environmentally friendly and is non-biodegradable). They also provide a more sustainable digital approach to 3D printed foot orthoses production/prescription, which results in much less waste as part of the manufacture process, uses a recycled polyamide material and has a lower carbon emission level.

Dr Andrea Graham, Lecturer in Podiatry, said: “For me, Australian podiatrist Angela Evans sums up the ethos that should be at the core of what we are doing as healthcare providers/educators. She uses the idea of making a Green LEAP:

L – Lead on environmental sustainability
E – Educate themselves on environmental sustainability
A – Advocate for better healthcare sustainability
P – Participate in environmentally sustainable workplaces.”

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