Setting up a GTG in your hospital starts with a conversation with your colleagues. A GTG can achieve great things as a front-line staff driven team and then amplify it’s achievements by networking with other GTGs and engaging health service executives.
Dr Adam Crossley, from Fiona Stanley and Fremantle Hospitals shares some of his wisdom:
Find the interested people in your department and theatres – ‘cast a wide net’ to maximise multi-disciplinary input and enthusiasm. Use technology to your advantage – newsletters, social media. Get to know who orders consumable products – they are probably already thinking about sustainability. Infection Control teams should be engaged early to go on the sustainability journey with you, so that projects can manage any infection control requirements. Facilities management (cleaning, portering etc) are also vital to the chain of processing waste. At the other end of the pipeline, get to know your waste management providers – they already know what recycling and waste streams are available to your institution and these will often be available with no extra cost.
Once you have a group of interested front-line staff, talk to your executive about institutional support (endorsement, secretarial, a sustainability officer, sustainability strategic plan). You may find high-level sustainability aspirations can then be linked to practical action in theatres.
Target Low Hanging Fruit
See our guide on ‘what first for GTGs’. It’s important to get some quick wins to get people enthusiastic about projects which might require them to change their work practice or products.
Education is key
Sometimes being sustainable can appear complicated, for example – which clinical plastic goes in which bin? Make sure posters and resources are available to guide all staff at the point of care. Repeated reminders via meetings or team briefing and written communication can make working sustainably easy to follow. Look for colleagues to act as ‘champions’ to spread the word in person and receive feedback.
Prepare yourself for difficult questions
What difference will it make if I use desflurane in my 12 hour case? Why should I recycle my syringes? Does it really make a difference? Doesn’t all of this recycling go to landfill anyway? Whilst most colleagues can easily see the benefits of small changes which lead to working more sustainably, others are resistant to change. It’s important to generate discussion but make sure you have answers.
Look out for co-benefits
A healthy planet is beneficial to all. However if that longer-term goal is a hard-sell, remember there are more immediate co-benefits from sustainable theatres which can encourage buy-in. Financial savings, safety and clinical outcomes often align with sustainable changes. The health of staff and patients can be improved almost immediately with sustainability measures like encouraging active commuting.
You can’t do this in isolation
You need a multidisciplinary team. Involve your colleagues in decision making. Everyone who works in theatres will have a perspective, useful knowledge and the ability to make (or break) a project.
Don’t forget to
- Make use of the waste hierarchy
- Reuse and reduce before recycling
- Involve management – theatre/hospital exec/department
- Involve Infection Control
- Check processes
- Be familiar with all the detail around how or what to recycle in your area
- Think big and innovate
- Use theatres as a pilot and roll-out schemes hospital-wide
- Involve hospital exec
- Get a Sustainability officer
- Communicate often
- Tell people about your successes!
- Listen to feedback about what isn’t working
- Do audit and QI projects
- Try again, if at first, you don’t succeed.
- Some initiatives fail because it wasn’t the ‘right time’. Circumstances change and don’t be afraid to try good ideas again at a later time.
Media and Identity
We’ve prepared two logos: one for Green Theatres Groups (blossoming U wave) and one for Green Theatres Networks (peaked tree-waves!), see below on organisational chart. Please contact James Anderson if you’d like to use the artwork, (free to a good home/GTG/GTN!).