Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Sustainable and Cost Effective Surgery Measures Agreed at Consensus Conference

10 November 2011
The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), in partnership with the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI) held a one-day Consensus Conference in Dublin on Sustainable and Cost Effective Surgery on Thursday 10th November 2011.


With increasing awareness of the ecological challenges facing our planet, RCSI and the ASGBI held a conference to discuss means by which surgeons could reduce their carbon foot print. Delegates were welcomed by Mr Eamon Ryan, past minister and leader of the Green Party in the Republic of Ireland.

The conference agreed that there are many economies that can be made without diminishing quality of care. An invited audience of surgical experts heard presentations on recycling and disposal of clinical waste, the cost-effectiveness of reusable versus single use equipment and discussed at length a variety of modifications in practice that would reduce the use of sustainable resources. For example, volumes of water used during scrubbing up, the use of surgical dressings, the implications of travel incurred by both patient and surgeon, and the potential for negotiating with industry for reducing the cost of consumables were all considered important subjects.

Presentations were given by a range of experts from different surgical specialties as well as European colleagues on a variety of subjects which highlighted means by which surgeons and surgery could reduce its carbon footprint without detriment to patient care.

Professor Eilis McGovern, President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland said "We were delighted to host this event which discussed one of the most important issues currently affecting the planet and our professional practice. We must ensure that we maximise finite global resources and minimise unnecessary waste."

Professor John MacFie, President of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland said "All surgeons have a responsibility to ensure that inappropriate waste is kept to a minimum and restricted resources are maximised for the benefit of the public."

It is the intention of the RCSI and ASGBI to publish a Consensus Statement reflecting all contributions to this meeting together with a range of recommendations. All were agreed that this important topic should be the subject of future meetings and be placed high on the political agenda. Both RCSI and ASGBI are keen to emphasise their commitment to preserving renewable resources and the impact of surgery on cost effectiveness and the sustainability of resources.

RCSI is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving human health through education, research and service. Founded in 1784, originally to train surgeons, today it also provides extensive education and training in the healthcare professions at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

ASGBI is the professional body representing general surgery and it sub specialties across Great Britain and Ireland.