Green Nephrology flourishing in lean times

Frances Mortimer's picture

“Thanks to Green Nephrology, sustainability is now regarded as an integral part of quality. The work over the past year has caught the imagination of the whole kidney community and has launched a social movement to provide better, greener and leaner kidney care. Waste in the NHS diverts resources from healthcare. Everyone has a part to play, patients as well, in achieving affordable and sustainable high quality care for all. Green Nephrology is leading the way.”

(Dr Donal O’Donoghue, National Clinical Director for Kidney Care, Department of Health.)

The quest for financial savings was a recurring theme at the British Renal Society / Renal Association annual conference this month, and the Green Nephrology programme had plenty to offer.

Speaking at the Green Nephrology private reception (co-hosted by Dr O’Donoghue and the director of NHS Kidney Care, Beverley Matthews), Deputy Ward Manager Libby Critchley recalled signing up to the Green Nephrology at the BRS Conference this time last year. This time she is back presenting on the Chester unit’s waste reduction project which has reduced paper consumption by 75%, saving almost 50,000 sheets of paper and £140 per year. Reducing the patient care plan from 14 to 6 pages has been a particularly popular move with nursing staff, releasing more time for direct care. The team is now working to spread the approach across the rest of the Trust.


Katie Trout & Libby Critchley, Green Nephrology Representatives, Chester

Simeon Edwards described how the Cornwall team’s green action plan has saved £32,000 in the last year on food, laundry, transport and procurement; Leicester nephrologist Rachel Westacott reported results from a waste audit of their procedures room, where she has calculated that addition of single waste bin will save £50 each year by reducing the amount of “clinical” waste – imagine the savings possible across the dialysis unit, or the whole hospital!

The CKD Electronic Advisory Service, presented by Dr John Stoves from Bradford, supports a rich online interaction between GPs and hospital kidney doctors, who are able to give advice on the management of individual patients in primary care. This effectively reshapes the patient pathway, avoiding the need for many referrals, with their attendant travel, inconvenience and duplications. Potential cost (and environmental) savings are considerable, but depend on local tariff negotiations with the PCT.


Dr John Stoves, Green Nephrology Representative, Bradford, talks to the President of the Association of Renal Industries

These were just a few of the projects underway by Green Nephrology Local Representatives, who now cover 79% of all renal units in the UK. Many other initiatives were also highlighted, including recovery of waste water in Ashford dialysis unit (saving £10,000/year), the telephone clinic for renal transplant recipients in Coventry, and waste reduction and recycling in Fife.

When asked whether cost saving or greening was a more powerful message when engaging with colleagues, the Green Nephrology representatives were clear: cost saving can be viewed negatively by staff, while greening is seen as a positive agenda. But all agreed that quantifying the cost savings is also very important, particularly when management support is required.


Mary Thomson, Green Nephrology Representative, Fife


  • Green Nephrology case studies are available from Posters from the Green Nephrology BRS/RA reception may also be accessed from the NHS Kidney Care website.
  • You can read more about Green Nephrology at the BRS/RA conference in Andy's blog, or see the event programme here.
  • Renal Tsar's blog 27 May 2010: Sustainability the Seventh Dimension of Quality

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