Green Surgery Challenge

The Green Surgery Challenge 2021 is an opportunity for the UK’s surgical community to recognise the value of sustainable healthcare for surgical conditions: to share and promote ways of practising that are less harmful to the environment and our planet and build social sustainability: to continue to transform surgery for the future. 

What is the problem in surgery?

Climate change is having far reaching consequences for planetary health, including within the UK, and is accepted as one of the greatest threats to the health of global populations. In addition, the integrity of our environment is threatened by air pollution, plastic overuse, chemical pollution, water scarcity, soil degradation, deforestation and loss of biodiversity.  

Whilst healthcare organisations work to improve the health of populations, their day to day activities are contributing to climate change and to the impoverishment of the environment. The NHS is responsible for over one third of total public sector carbon emissions. Operating theatres contribute towards this, with energy requirements four to six times that of other hospital areas and as significant users of medical equipment and supplies.  

It’s time for powerful solutions for a sustainable surgical future

The Greener NHS campaign and NHS Net Zero Report highlight the need and opportunity for healthcare to change its activities, processes and systems to address carbon-heavy interventions. The report draws upon The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare’s decade of experience in transforming healthcare for a sustainable future. Specifically, within surgical services there are opportunities for: 

  • Preventing and optimising conditions requiring surgical intervention, including peri-operative optimisation. 
  • Promoting patient empowerment and patient-centred surgical services. 
  • Ensuring lean surgical pathways, including identifying and avoiding unnecessary procedures or unused single-use items in surgery. 
  • Promoting low-carbon alternative products and processes in surgery, including reusable instruments, maintenance, repair, and recycling. 
  • Raising awareness and changing culture amongst the surgical community. 
  • Partnering with other allied healthcare professionals and supporting services to achieve these aims. 

The Green Surgery 2021 Challenge Opportunity 

The challenge launched on 3rd February 2021 at an online event, hosted by the Royal College of Surgeons England (RCSEng) with Ms Victoria Pegna, co-founder of the Sustainability in Surgery working group and the President of RCSEng, Professor Neil Mortensen.  The event included:

  • an introduction to green surgery from Professor Mahmood Bhutta & Sustainable Surgery Fellow, Chantelle Rizan, from Brighton & Sussex Medical School
  • information on how to get involved in the challenge by Dr Olivia Bush, Clinical Programme Director at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare.
  • Q&A.

Teams applied to enter the Green Surgery Challenge by submitting an idea for what area of the surgical pathway their team decided to focus on to make it "greener" and more sustainable...and why.  

6 teams were selected to receive mentoring from sustainable healthcare specialists (who are both clinicians and sustainability consultants) at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare to hone a specific question, devise a project, implement the project and measure the outcomes over a 10-week period.  The teams were introduced to sustainable quality improvement (SusQI) methodology; a methodology devised to create sustainable transformation. 

All 6 teams will present their work at a high profile judging and award event held in partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons, England; this will be an opportunity to showcase the projects and the achievements of the teams and to catalyse culture change within the surgical community.

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Timeline 2021 

  • February 3rd; launch at virtual event
  • February 10th; application period opens 
  • March 1st; application period closes & shortlisting starts 
  • March 26th-30th; successful shortlisted teams contacted  
  • 27th-29th April; workshops & start of project period
  • Midday Thursday 15th July; deadline for project write ups and data to be submitted 
  • November 2021; judging and awards


Green surgery challenge process

Green Surgery Challenge Project Funders 

The Green Surgery Challenge is brought to you by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, supported by Gold Funders and Sponsors NIHR MedTech Co-operative in Surgical Technologies and Elemental Healthcare, Silver Sponsors Royal College of Surgeons England and Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, Bronze Sponsors the AHSN NetworkVanguard Medical Remanufacturing, and Bowa Medical UK, and partners, the Sustainable Healthcare Coalition, the Association for Perioperative Practice, and Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Gold Sponsors

NIHR MedTech Co-operative in Surgical Technologies   elemental healthcare.jpg

Silver Sponsors

Royal College of Surgeons England   Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh

Bronze Sponsors

 AHSN network  vanguard logo bowa_medical_logo

We welcome offers of additional sponsorship from other organisations, which would enable the Challenge to significantly deepen its impact. For more details on becoming a project sponsor, please contact: Vee Mapunde, Programme Director, NIHR Medtech Co-operative in Surgical Technologies at

Project partners 

The Green Surgery Challenge 2021 is being created and delivered through collaboration between a group of supportive partners:  

GSC partners

We welcome offers of additional partnership support and funding from other organisations, which would enable the Challenge to significantly deepen its impact.