Caithness General Hospital in Wick, Scotland, has become the first in the world to be awarded Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) certification.
AWS is a global membership collaboration comprising businesses, NGOs and the public sector whose members contribute to the sustainability of local water-resources through adoption and promotion of a universal framework for the sustainable use of water – the International Water Stewardship Standard, or AWS Standard – that drives, recognises and rewards good water stewardship performance.
The National Health Service (NHS) of Highland Region, Scotland, has been involved in a multi-agency project designed to reduce the pollution caused by medicines emanating from the hospital, and this award is recognition of an ongoing initiative designed to make the healthcare provided at the hospital “greener” by reducing its environmental impact. The hospital is so far the only site of any kind in the United Kingdom to achieve AWS certification.
Other collaborators in the “Caithness Initiative” include Aurora Sustainability Group, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Water, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Environmental Research Institute (ERI).
The project involved in-depth analysis of changes in the quality of the hospital’s water from its source, Loch Calder, to Caithness General Hospital and onwards to the local wastewater treatment plant.
Caithness General was selected for the project because of its relatively straightforward water system. Water for the hospital is sourced from Loch Calder, the hospital is near ERI’s base, and there are multiple demands on the system such as agriculture, distilling, food production and fishing.
In an effort to make hospitals, generally, “greener” it is hoped that the lessons learned could be applied to hospitals and other healthcare sites across the region.
An estimated 30 to 90 percent of all medicines are excreted into waste water systems as an active substance in urine. In the UK alone, about $400 Million USD worth of dispensed medicines go unused and are ultimately discarded, often flushed down the toilet.
NHS Highland’s environmental and sustainability manager John Burnside said: “This award is a clear indication of the board’s desire to be at the forefront of environmental sustainability.
“This project has enabled Caithness General Hospital to lead the way in reducing the impact the medicines we prescribe can have on the environment. We have a strong economic and social responsibility to the communities we serve and it is vitally important we reduce our carbon footprint".
Chief Executive Officer of Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), Adrian Sym, said: “NHS Highland is at the forefront of a growing movement to tackle the impacts of pharmaceuticals on the environment and on public health, and has demonstrated global leadership by employing water stewardship as part of these efforts...We are delighted that Caithness General is the first hospital in the world to achieve AWS certification in recognition of this work. At AWS we are committed to taking the learning from this project to encourage other hospitals to follow NHS Highland's lead, confident in the belief that together we can make a valuable contribution to efforts to address the impacts of pharmaceuticals on aquatic ecosystems worldwide".
Tune In 30 January: aquaNOW Audience -- "Green Meds For Blue Water"
On January 30, OOSKAnews will host an "aquaNOW Audience", in Inverness Scotland, to discuss challenges and solutions around pharmaceutical pollution of water resources. The event will be live streamed at www.ooskanews.com from 2PM UK time.
"Green Meds for Blue Water" will discuss in panel discussion format the challenges of identifying pharma pollution and cleaning it up. The Audiences engage international environmental experts and Scottish expertise in global water-related challenges and solutions. Moderator for the panel discussion is publisher of OOSKAnews David Duncan. The events are filmed before a live audience and streamed online to a global viewership.
This aquaNOW Audience will be held in Inverness at the UHI Centre for Health Sciences on January 30 to reflect the recent achievement of Caithness General Hospital's AWS certification. Please join at 2PM UK time either in the room or by logging onto OOSKAnews website.