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J R Soc Med. 2007 December; 100(12): 539.
PMCID: PMC2121623

Towards greener hospitals

Robin Stott's article entitled ‘Climate change, poverty and war’ (JRSM 2007;100:399-402)1 was, I feel, a little ambitious, with surely most of the initiatives to halt climate change having to come from politicians rather than health professionals. However, his point that we need to commit ‘ourselves to live and develop within environmental limits and ensure that the institutions within which we have influence do likewise’ is an interesting one which deserves further consideration.

A cursory look around any hospital in this country will reveal appliances and lights left on unnecessarily, tap water that is far too hot, rooms which are heated all year round, a complete lack of double glazing and an absence of any form of recycling. Perhaps surprisingly, this issue has received scant attention in either the lay or medical press despite the environmental and financial benefits small changes could bring. Indeed, a study in the Irish Medical Journal in 2002 suggested that in one hospital, energy consumption could be quite easily reduced by 20%, water consumption by 15% and proper waste segregation could result in reductions of up to 40% of health-care waste.2

In a world in which climate change is becoming increasingly important, it is surely time both health professionals and politicians realised the environmental impact of hospitals and put in place the simple changes needed to effect real and long-lasting improvements.


Competing interests None declared.


1. Stott R. Climate change, poverty and war. J R Soc Med 2007;100: 399-402 [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Duputie S, Farrington N. The road to a greener hospital. Ir Med J. 2002.95(3): 75-7. [PubMed]

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