The NHS Scotland sustainability conference 2021 featured a presentation by OHBP co-founders Sharon Pfleger (NHS Highland) and Elise Cartmell (Scottish Water) on water stewardship in healthcare. The presentation explored the connection between healthcare and the water sector – and the importance of working together to be good water stewards.
NHS Scotland uses 9.5 million cubic meters per year – and this use has a significant impact on water quality, particularly through medicine use and disposal. This creates down-stream effects for Scottish Water, as treating wastewaters polluted with pharmaceuticals and other pharmacologically active contaminants has a high carbon, chemical, and energy demand. It is known that not all pharmaceutical compounds are removed during wastewater treatment, and subsequently enter effluent-receiving surface water.
OHBP co-founders reinforced that good water stewardship requires an integrated, holistic approach with all water users – and we all have a part to play in protecting and promoting our water resources. The presentation highlighted the work of the OHBP, NHS Highland, ERI-UHI, and the Alliance for Water Stewardship in achieving the AWS accreditation at Caithness General Hospital by monitoring water use, water quality, and pharmaceutical levels in the hospital wastewater – a world first for a hospital. Partnership working like this is critical to developing sustainable solutions to cross-sector issues like water quality, pollution, and climate change.
The event was organised by NHS National Services Scotland and Public Health Scotland, and was titled “Delivering a green and just, resilient recovery”. The conference featured plenary lectures by government and healthcare sector officials, including: Caroline Lamb (Chief Executive Officer, NHS Scotland), Humza Yousaf (Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Scottish Government), and Dr Gregor Smith (Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Scottish Government).
“There is no human health without planetary health”
All plenaries drew on the current climate change and biodiversity emergencies, and the connection between the heath of the planet and human health. This interconnection reinforces the importance of groups like the OHBP in applying the One Health approach in moving forward to reach sustainability and net-zero pledges.
All recordings will be available through the link .