GWH now using climate-friendly pain relief

By Jessica Durston - 12 May 2023


GWH's NHS Foundation Trust has recently become the second NHS organisation in the UK, to install a Central Destruction Unit (CDU) to make entonox - also known as gas and air - carbon neutral.

Recently, new mum Sarah Clements became one of the first people at Great Western Hospital to use a carbon neutral pain relief during her labour.

Sarah exhaled the entonox, which was sent to the CDU, which is designed to ‘crack’ any nitrous oxide into oxygen and nitrogen; natural components of air.

A spokesperson for the Swindon hospital said: "This is a significant first for the Trust in our move to reduce our carbon footprint, as anaesthetic gases make up two per cent cent of the total NHS England footprint. Of this anaesthetic gas footprint, 75 per cent is contributed by entonox and nitrous oxide which are greenhouse gases."

The CDU is currently connected to four of the Trust’s maternity delivery rooms, with plans to connect all 12 rooms in the near future.

Caroline Railston-Brown, Sustainability Lead, said: “Today is an important milestone in our progression towards a Net Zero future while supporting the climate friendly use of entonox during labour. Using the new entonox delivery system has been a great team effort between maternity staff, the Trust’s estates team and Serco estates team.”

Earlier this year, the Trust also decommissioned the piped supply of nitrous oxide, a gas medically distinct from entonox but a contributing factor to its carbon footprint.

This project was made possible by obtaining funding from the Healthier Futures Action Fund via Greener NHS and the Trust were one of 14 successful applicants out of 109 across the South West.

The Trust now says it only uses a small number of nitrous oxide gas cylinders where relevant and will save hundreds of thousands of litres of gas usage every year.

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