Scotland’s Health Secretary has welcomed initiatives to encourage patients to switch to environmentally friendly asthma inhalers.
Humza Yousaf visited Douglas Medical Centre in Dundee on Wednesday to learn about new technology from doctors, pharmacists and patients on how the switch has gone so far.
The health centre has been helping patients switch to dry-powder inhalers which use a person’s own breath to deliver a dose of medicine.
It has less global-warming potential than metered dose inhalers which use greenhouse gases.
The Scottish Government minister was also given a demonstration of how the new devices work.
The environmental impact of inhalers, used for treating asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is equivalent to about 79,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year – more than the NHS fleet of 9,300 ambulances, cars, HGVs and motorbikes.
Clinicians are using new guidance to encourage patients to change their inhaler prescriptions, where suitable, to avoid unnecessary environmental harm.
It will also promote greater understanding of the different types of inhalers for those using them and support conversations around clinical decisions to switch to an environmentally friendly device.
One patient told how the treatment had had a life-changing impact on her physical and mental wellbeing.
NHS Scotland’s Climate Emergency and Sustainability strategy has emissions reduction at its core, with updated guidance set to be published in the autumn.
Mr Yousaf told the PA news agency: “Every single part of our society has got to play its part when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions and that includes healthcare.
“One of the key things we’re looking at is can we reduce the amount of inhaler usage? And also, switch people on to other devices which have a far lesser impact on the environment?
“I’ve spoken to patients who actually have made that switch and the outcomes have been better for them and better for the environment so we are looking to see how we can roll that out further across the country.”
Arlene Shaw, NHS Tayside Respiratory Managed Clinical Network lead pharmacist, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Health Secretary to Tayside today to see first-hand the work we are doing to reduce our carbon footprint across many areas of patient care.
“We have recently agreed our own inhaler prescribing strategy which promotes effective treatment regimes, while considering the environmental impact.
“Our strategy ensures we’re working to reduce our CO2 emissions whilst making sure patients remain at the centre of everything we do.”
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