NHS Business Services Authority has launched a new dashboard to help prescribers to reduce the high carbon impact of inhalers.Estimates suggest that around 3% of total NHS carbon emissions can be attributed to the prescribing of respiratory inhalers, primarily metered dose inhalers (MDI) which rely on an aerosol propellant to deliver their active chemical ingredient.
Prescribing lower carbon inhalers (dry powder inhalers (DPI) or soft mist inhalers (SMI), or lower CO2 MDI variants, is recognised as a more sustainable approach and a way to mitigate the carbon impact of respiratory prescribing, without a harmful impact on patient outcomes.
Working with clinicians from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, the new 'Respiratory – Carbon Impact Dashboard' was built to provide prescribers and commissioners with the insight to understand the impact of respiratory prescribing in the context of sustainability. It is a means to monitor and promote better prescribing practice in the respiratory space, with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions.
The dashboard contains data that is easy to understand. For instance, it allows viewers to see the levels of higher carbon producing inhalers prescribed versus the lower carbon inhalers. Data is shown for different types of inhalers, such as relievers (used to treat symptoms of respiratory conditions when they occur) and preventers (used for ongoing management of respiratory conditions). Data can also be viewed at practice and Primary Care Network (PCN) level, as well as within Sub Integrated Care Board Locations (SICBL). Michael Brodie, chief executive of NHS Business Services Authority, said: ‘According to the Greener NHS programme, inhalers account for about 3% of total NHS carbon emissions, which is a substantial amount when you consider transport and other sources of carbon emission. ‘Across the NHS, there is a drive to reduce CO2 emissions produced by the prescribing of inhalers for respiratory conditions – in line with the NHS Long Term Plan, Greener NHS initiative, and to support the ambition for a net zero NHS. ‘So, we hope that our new Carbon Impact dashboard can help prescribers and commissioners to see the great benefits of moving to lower carbon alternatives.’ Sam Schofield, environment coordinator at NHSBSA, added: ‘High levels of air pollution cause asthma in both children and adults. In the UK alone more than 12 million people are affected by lung conditions – with over 60 million inhalers prescribed every year. Swapping to a more environmentally friendly inhaler helps to reduce the contribution to climate change and in turn prevents worsening air pollution.’ To access the new dashboard on our public insight portal ‘Catalyst’ go to https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/access-our-data-products/catalyst. NICE has also produced a decision aid to help people with asthma make informed decisions about their choice of inhaler in relation to its contribution to climate change.