Inhalers are a key treatment for respiratory conditions, with approximately 60 million dispensed in England every year. However, inhalers are not always used in an optimal way, which can lead to poor disease control and avoidable deaths.
Inhaler emissions account for approximately 3% of the NHS carbon footprint. The propellant used in metered dose inhalers is responsible for most of these emissions. Alternative options with a significantly lower carbon footprint exist, such as dry powder inhalers.
The UK has a higher metered dose inhalers prescribing rate compared with other European countries. These countries have demonstrated that safe and effective care can still be delivered using other inhaler devices.
Supporting patients over the age of 12 to consider using lower carbon inhalers, where clinically appropriate, creates an opportunity to improve patient outcomes while reducing harmful carbon emissions.
The move also supports improved patient choice. A study from Asthma+Lung UK (ALUK) indicated that most patients would like the environmental impact of inhalers to be a consideration in treatment choice.
Wyre Forest Health Partnership (WFHP) was formed from a merger of 5 GP practices and now comprises of 6 sites across Worcestershire with over 50 doctors, 200+ staff, and more than 73,000 patients. WFHP identified that, in line with the UK, they too had high prescribing rates for metered dose inhalers, and decided to act – to improve the health of their respiratory patients, while reducing their environmental impact.