Opportunity for surgical trainees: would you like to become our National Sustainable Operating Theatres Network Manager?

Chantelle Rizan's picture

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH) is looking for a surgical trainee who is passionate about the environmentto become our National Sustainable Operating Theatres Network Manager. Operating theatres are typically the most resource-intensive area of a hospital, generating 21-30% of hospital waste and are 3-6 times more energy intensive than the rest of the hospital. We are trying to work out how best to improve the eco-efficiency of theatres. 

The aim of the Sustainable Operating Theatres Network is to embed environmental sustainability into surgery around the UK. The network will act as a platform for sharing case studies of sustainable practice within surgery. We would also like to know from members of the surgical team what they think are the barriers and enablers to sustainable practice within operating theatres.The network manager will work alongside our Sustainable Surgery Fellow Chantelle Rizan who is examining the carbon footprint of surgery within her PhD.

This is a one year voluntary post, requiring equivalent of 2 days per month commitment. Responsibilities include: 

  • Re-launch the national Sustainable Operating Theatres online network, hosted on the CSH website (http://networks.sustainablehealthcare.org.uk)
    • Reaching out to members of the surgical team across the UK, encouraging them to join and engage in the online community
    • Facilitating & overseeing the network
  • Develop and disseminate a campaignof simple changes that can be implemented by operating personnel to improve surgical sustainability
  • There is also potential to help form a Sustainable Operating Theatres Ambassador programme. The ambassadors will act as local champions, seeking for bottom up cultural change within operating theatres. 

Here at CSH we have a legacy of successful similar work in other healthcare specialties, but this has never been done within surgery before.

This is an exciting opportunity to:

  • Learn about how surgery can be made more environmentally sustainable
  • Develop skills in leadership and project management at a national scale 
  • Develop networking skills with members of the surgical community who are also passionate about the environment
  • Contribute to an impactful movement, leading the edge of sustainability in surgery
  • Work with experts in the field with >10 years experience in clinical sustainability

To apply for this post please write 350 words outlining your reasons for applying, relevant experience and your vision for the network. Please also submit a two page summary of your CV. Submit applications to chantelle.rizan@sustainablehealthcare.org.uk by midnight on 9thNovember at the latest.

We look forward to hearing from you,


Sustainable Surgery Fellow, CSH


sustainable operating theatre

Sarah Wheatly's picture

Hello Charlotte. I'm an anaesthetic consultant (and unofficial Womble) in a large hospital in Manchester. Thought it might be useful to make a few comments on things that I/we have thought about and try to do - sometimes more successfully than others as so good to see there are a number of us trying to do the same thing!

1) We generate a vast amount of waste in theatres - much of which is packaging. By segregating packaging and other non clinical waste from clinical waste - it is better for the environment as the former is (apparently) segregated and recycled wheas the latter is incinerated. Difficulty is trying to get staff to segregate rubbish and not just put everything into the nearest bag / bin.

2) can you look into recycling glass - we tried to think about this with the large number of glass ampoules (some of which are large - and heavy) we throw away into the sharps bins. Glass weighs a lot and is readily recyclable - so recycling it would reduce the cost and environmental impact of incinerating sharps waste - and regenerate glass. Having looked a little into this it seems the problem is the fact that (tiny amounts of) residual drug might be in the ampoules. My thought is if they are melted at high temperature surely all drug will evaporate - but in reality I don't know the ins and outs of this and whether it is something to look into and consider

3) recycling metal. Certainly possible and something we have been doing for the last couple of years - so all laryngoscope blades, broken surgical instruments, disposable metal instruments, dental syringes and some other items (doesn't matter if there is a bit of plastic on it apparently) can be recycled. Contamination with blood/ body fluid not a problem (which is why I wonder why drugs in glass IS apparently a problem). metal weighs a lot so not only is it better for the environment in that less is being incinerated - it also saves the hospital money (not sure how much). Again - we have had a BIG problem trying ot inform staff about this - educating all theatre staff is a problem. I still find laryngoscope blades in sharps bins.

4) I do worry about all the disposable surgical drapes and gowns we use - not sure if all hospitals now do this rather than having sterile services? The paper fabric they are made of may be waterproof and convenient but suspect it is not environmentally friendly either in manufacture or disposal. Wonder if some enterprising manufacturer could find a way to recycle our non clinical paper waste into surgical drapes and gowns?


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