Climate change is the most significant health threat modern society has ever faced. Governments, organisations and individuals all have a collective responsibility to tackle this growing threat. Medicines account for 25% of the UK health service’s carbon emissions, which makes using medicines more sustainably to support a shift to net zero in healthcare a priority.
Over the past few years, pharmacy’s professional leadership body, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), has made taking action on climate change a priority. RPS has worked with other health professional leadership bodies including the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in Scotland, Royal College of GPs (RCGPs) and Scottish Government to promote a series of ambitious initiatives, which include:
- Making medicines use more environmentally sustainable.
- Encouraging prescribers to work more sustainably by involving patients in prescribing decisions and reducing unnecessary prescribing.
- Looking for alternatives to medical prescribing where appropriate such as green prescribing, linking people with nature-based interventions and activities.
Today, RPS Scotland Director Laura Wilson promoted this work internationally, speaking at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, in Copenhagen. Laura spoke about the evidence on environmental harm which medicines cause, and how professional leadership bodies from across Scotland came together to create a national movement on sustainable prescribing. Laura was joined by Clare Morrison MBE, Director of Community Engagement at Healthcare Improvement Scotland and previous RPS Scotland Director, who pioneered much of this work.
The session finished with a pitch to delegates to explore creating an international movement on sustainable prescribing, to complement recent work undertaken in Scotland led by RPS Scotland, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in Scotland and RCGPs.
Speaking after the conference presentation, Laura Wilson said:
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to deliver this hugely important message on achieving sustainable medicines use on such a prestigious international stage today.
Making medicines use more sustainable is an absolute priority for RPS Scotland. As pharmacists we are experts in medicines and their use, and so we appreciate our unique responsibility in leading from the front and ensuring medicines are used in the most sustainable ways.
“We’ve worked in collaboration with others to ensure we have built a national movement on sustainable prescribing in Scotland, with backing from Scottish Government. I hope today our national movement can become truly international which will be a great help to us achieving net zero in healthcare globally.”