MEDICAL bodies are calling on health boards and the Scottish Government to do more to reduce the carbon footprint of the NHS.

The Scottish Academy – which includes health professionals in the Academy of Medical Royal ­Colleges and Faculties in Scotland – ­demanded action on the issue ahead of the ­global Cop26 climate change ­summit in Glasgow. They argue that climate change is a global public health issue and therefore ­professionals ­working in the sector should be leading the way by making the NHS more ­environmentally friendly.

But they say for meaningful change to happen, action is needed from health boards and the Government, as well as from health professionals themselves.

With the Academy concerned about waste in the health system – particularly from single-use items such as PPE, inhalers, blood collection tubes and plastic drinking cups – it called for the NHS in Scotland to be more innovative about recycling items such as PPE where this can be done safely.

Mike McKirdy, president-elect of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, said a “move ­towards reusable surgical equipment” could be explored.

He said hospitals and other NHS centres should also make sure there are sufficient recycling bins in ­clinical areas and in patient waiting areas, since the recycling of general waste is a challenge. Meanwhile ­video ­technology could be used to avoid unnecessary vehicle journeys which cause harmful emissions.

Dr Chris Williams, the joint chair of the Royal College of GPs ­Scottish Council said: “Video ­technology ­offers patients and clinicians ­increasing options for consultations and discussions without the need to meet face to face. When this is ­appropriate and mutually ­acceptable, these ­opportunities should be explored and embraced. We must look to avoid unnecessary journeys that cause vehicle emissions. Transport accounted for more than one third of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. We want safe active travel to be supported and promoted.”

The NHS in Scotland has committed to being a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions organisation by 2045.

McKirdy said: “Health services, and the way in which we deliver care, are major contributors to climate change.

“We need to consider the pathway for patients and identify where we can reduce, reuse and recycle at all stages of the clinical journey.”