Media release

Help make healthcare sustainable

Making medical practices more environmentally sustainable will cut running costs and help tackle climate change.

Medical practices should be funded to become more environmentally sustainable, reducing running costs and allowing precious health dollars to be used where they are most needed, AMA Queensland says.

The AMA Queensland Budget Submission 2024-25 calls for Queensland Health to fund pilot programs in environmental sustainability in six hospitals and 10 general practices across the state, and to fund sustainability initiatives for private practices.

“We can all see the impact of a changing climate, with increased cyclones, floods and bushfires affecting communities across Queensland,” AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said.

“It presents a daunting and unpredictable challenge to our public and private health systems.

“Hospitals and general practices are vital community resources during times of natural emergency. While our hospitals have back-up generators and in some cases solar power, most private practices cannot afford generators, solar panels or battery storage.

“This means no refrigeration for vaccines, no immediate access to patient records and closed clinics at a time when people are wading through floodwaters or clearing debris, risking infection and injury.

“General practices are the go-to for the community after a disaster and our GPs and practice staff go above and beyond to find ways to reopen, including setting up in boat clubs while the power is out.

“Subsidising practices to invest in solar power and batteries will help cut their running costs, making healthcare more efficient and affordable, while also becoming more environmentally sustainable.

“The healthcare sector is estimated to contribute about 7 per cent of Australia’s total carbon emissions. We must do better.

“Our hospitals and health services are significant sources of carbon emissions and waste production, particularly through single-use items, biohazardous waste and high use of non-renewable energy.

“Practices want to do more to become environmentally sustainable, but cannot wear more costs at a time when they already subsidise patient care so much.

“The Queensland Government must do more to reduce the impacts of climate change on our community and environment and ensure healthcare services are sustainable.

“We are calling for action on pandemic planning and disaster medicine and treatment, and for local action. We need to see pilot programs in environmental sustainability for hospitals and general practices.

“These pilot programs would include greater use of renewable energy, transitioning away from single-use items, recycling programs for blister packs and other medical waste, and simple ways to reduce the amount of printing in healthcare settings.

“We are calling for Queensland Health to fund these pilots in six hospitals and 10 GP clinics across the state, evenly divided between our cities and our regional towns.

“These pilots will give us evidence on how health services can reduce their carbon footprint and help Queensland and Australia meet their carbon emission reduction targets.”

The AMA Queensland Budget Submission 2024-25 can be read here.

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