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Ysbyty Gwynedd trials reusable theatre gowns

20 March, 2024

Theatre staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd have been taking part in a trial to test the safety and effectiveness of reusable gowns.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns regarding the volume of clinical waste generated by single-use gowns led to health boards and trusts across the UK to look at different ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Following a successful trial within Endoscopy and the Intensive Care Unit during the pandemic, the gowns were recently rolled out to staff in Theatres.

Wendy Scrase, Sustainable Transformation Officer at Ysbyty Gwynedd, said: “In the effort to reduce high carbon emissions and waste, several members of our theatres team took part in trialling Elis Reusable Surgical Gowns during January.

“The company’s consultant theatre nurse supported the staff throughout the procedures to ensure training in donning, doffing and disposal.

“We have had great feedback from those who took part in the trial, with many staff saying how comfortable they were to wear and how they would love them to be available full time in theatres.”

The NHS accounts for four per cent of the UK’s carbon footprint with operating theatres having a particularly high-energy use.

The team found that switching to reusable gowns could potentially save £22,768 per year, which includes the clinical waste cost saving and reclaiming VAT. The CO2 saving would be 11,500kg which is equivalent to 56,881kWh of electricity or powering 11 detached houses for 15 months. Their findings have now been taken to procurement leads for all-Wales textile purchasing.

Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Carsten Eickmann said: “Surgical care is a major area of resource consumption, with the carbon footprint of surgical care in the UK in 2019 estimated at 5.7 million tonnes CO2e.

“Carbon hotspots in the operating theatre include anaesthetic gases, energy and particularly single use products.

“Sustainable surgery involves providing high-quality, high-value surgical care in a way that is environmentally, socially and financially sustainable – this trial really showed us the benefit of this.”