Trial to capture anaesthetic gases and reduce Trust's carbon footprint

New canisters designed to capture anaesthetic gases have been installed across Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s hospitals, in a large scale feasibility trial funded by Imperial Health Charity to reduce carbon emissions in surgery. This is part of the Imperial College Healthcare’s Green Plan, and is one of a number of ongoing Trust schemes aiming to curb the impact of climate change and achieve the NHS target of carbon net zero by 2040.  
Anaesthetic gases make up five per cent of the NHS’ carbon footprint. When patients receive anaesthetics via a machine, the gases they exhale are normally released via pipes into the atmosphere from the hospital roof. Teams across our hospitals are now using 'volatile capture technology' (VCT) canisters attached to the back of anaesthetic machines to capture significant volumes of these anaesthetic gases, which can then be purified and reused. 

The team will use the findings from the feasibility trial to make a case to roll this out permanently across the Trust.

Dr Tom Dolphin, consultant anaesthetist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We hope this trial, led by operating department practitioner Michael Odesoji, will demonstrate that this technology is easy to implement, so the Trust can roll out these devices permanently across all surgical theatres, resulting in less of these anaesthetic gases being released into the atmosphere.

“There are currently around 90 anaesthetic machines across our hospitals, with thousands of anaesthetics given each year to patients, so making this change would be a significant step in reducing our carbon footprint.” 

Surgical trainee and clinical research fellow Jasmine Winter-Beatty was the impetus for the trial, identifying a need to tackle the environmental impact of anaesthetics.

The grant is funding the trial of VCT devices by two leading brands across these sites, to compare their use in a hospital setting.

Find out more about the Trust’s Green Plan