Environmental sustainability is an important concern within the National Health Service. Compared with other specialties, there has been little research within palliative care. This study aims to calculate the carbon footprint of a specialist palliative care unit.
Resources grouped into medical, non-medical, travel, energy and waste were collected for the year 2021 in a hospice in the South West of England. Following a top-down approach, the activity used for each resource was multiplied by an emissions factor to calculate the carbon footprint. Staff attitudes were also surveyed.
The hospice carbon footprint was calculated as 420 tonnes kgCO2e. Travel (35%) was the highest contributor to emissions followed by gas (33%) and non-medical supplies (17%). There were 95 responses to the staff survey (59% response rate) with strong enthusiasm towards sustainable practices.
This is the first study to estimate the carbon footprint of a specialist palliative care unit. Compared with other specialties, palliative care has relatively low greenhouse gas emissions. Identifying sources of carbon equivalent production can be a first step into developing interventions to reduce this use. Our carbon footprint study will be used by the Hospice Sustainability Group to reduce our unit’s carbon footprint.