Background and importance We are on course for a global temperature rise which will see millions of people displaced, injured or dying through rising sea levels, starvation and disease by the end of this century. The health costs are projected to be extraordinary. The use of medicines and medicinal products create waste and pollution. The COVID pandemic and the relentless consumption of personal protective equipment (PPE) has escalated this issue. We must strive towards reducing waste, and ultimately pollution, in order to increase sustainability both for our patients, and for global health.
Aim and objectives To determine the awareness of qualified pharmacists across the UK with regard to the health risks of a climate crisis, as well as the impact of pharmacy on the environment.
Material and methods In July 2021, we invited all of our members (n=4788) to complete a short survey to gauge their understanding of the role of pharmacy in the promotion of a sustainable approach to healthcare via an emailed link to a 10-item survey in Webropol. The results were analysed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis. No completion incentives were offered. Ethical approval was not required for this study.
Results One hundred and seven pharmacists responded to the survey (2.23% response rate). Ninety-four percent of respondents believed that there were aspects of pharmacy practice. Themes to improve sustainability included; sustainable prescribing and deprescribing, raising awareness and penalties for poor practice. Sixty-five percent of respondents provided suggestions on how the proposed changes could be measured, such as measuring the carbon footprint of your organisation, creating energy and waste logs as well as encouraging working from home. Ninety-four percent of respondents believed that aspects of practice were wasteful, and only 37% felt empowered to make change in their organisation. Ninety percent of respondents believed that an increased focus on climate change was required at an organisational level and that leadership was required at all levels of practice.
Conclusion and relevance Survey respondents believe that aspects of pharmacy practice are not sustainable; however, most do not feel empowered to make change. There is a need for national guidance to support changes in practice, and for local champions and leadership at all levels.
Conflict of interest No conflict of interest