COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – an update for our clients.

Sustainability

It is no secret that the healthcare industry is far from sustainable.  In 2018, human healthcare alone contributed 6.3% of England’s total carbon footprint.  The NHS has committed to net-zero emissions by 2040 and it has become increasingly apparent that the veterinary sector must follow suit.  Vets need to consider the vast amount of single-use plastic they throw away each day, the impact of anaesthetic gases on our atmosphere, the ecological consequences of antibiotic misuse and the nutritional demands of our ever-increasing pet population.

In October 2019, a group of UK vets launched ‘Vet Sustain’ – the world’s first organisation dedicated to supporting veterinary professionals in being a leading force for sustainability.  Shortly afterwards, with the support of the partners, a group of like-minded colleagues set up our very own ‘Sustainability Team’ at Garston Veterinary Group.  Drawing inspiration from the wealth of resources developed by Vet Sustain, Garston has already become one of the first UK veterinary practices to make huge leaps forward in reducing our carbon footprint. This has included streamlining our recycling and heating processes, and reducing our electricity and paper consumption.  The Garston team have embraced the move away from single-use plastic – phasing in washable fabric theatre hats and masks, increasing recycling efforts and promoting the use of environmentally-friendly products such as bamboo toothbrushes and paper bags.

sustainability logo

Inspired by a scheme run by the British Bee Veterinary Association, our Sustainability Team run regular gardening mornings, with the aim of making our practice gardens more ‘bee-friendly’.  Keeping pollinators in mind, we have planted a selection of edible herbs for our small furry inpatients as well as some lovely colourful flowers to brighten up our outdoor lunch spots.

Whilst we tend to save getting our hands and knees muddy for the weekends (except for the farm team of course!), the green team have also been boosting their planting efforts from the comfort of the consult room by switching the practice computer search engines to ‘Ecosia’.  Ecosia uses ad revenue from internet searches to plant trees where they are needed the most.  By searching with Ecosia, the practice is helping to reforest the planet and empowering the communities around Ecosia’s planting projects to build a better future for themselves.  Anybody can download and use Ecosia, it’s free of charge and you can even use it as your internet app on your mobile phone – why not give it a try?

As part of our efforts to be a more environmentally-friendly medical enterprise, our Sustainability Team has spent a considerable amount of time reviewing our clinical protocols with sustainability in mind.  Several team members have attended webinars and lectures this year, with the aim of learning how we can work more sustainably without compromising our excellent clinical standards.  With expert guidance, our nursing team have successfully fine-tuned our anaesthesia and analgesia (pain relief) protocols to make them less wasteful, without compromising on efficacy.  Our use of Nitrous Oxide, an inhalational pain killer and potent greenhouse gas, has reduced to zero over the past year, as we have moved to using a wider range of injectable pain killers during anaesthetics instead.

Garston Veterinary Group are immensely proud to be at the forefront of the drive towards sustainability within our sector.  Garston has featured on Vet Sustain’s website as a case study for other practices, as well as in numerous articles and blogs in veterinary publications.  Our co-founder, veterinary surgeon Sian Naylor has presented on the subject of sustainability within the veterinary industry on several occasions and another member, Emily Standen, is currently part of Vet Sustain’s Nursing Working Group.

Looking forward, our sustainability team have many exciting plans in the pipeline and will continue to work hard to reduce the practice’s carbon footprint.  We thank our staff and clients for their continued support.

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