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Introducing a new national tool to monitor the carbon footprint of inhalers

Author/s Boldero R, Griffiths S, Coulson J
Year 2024
Type of publication Conference oral presentation

Health Services Research and Pharmacy Practice Conference (HSRPP) Conference, April 2024


The Welsh Government launched its National Health Service (NHS) Wales decarbonisation strategic delivery plan in March 2021.[1] The plan includes a number of actions related to the carbon footprint of inhalers. The National Prescribing Support Unit was requested to provide data for the carbon footprint of inhalers, and develop an analysis tool to measure progress in reducing the carbon footprint and movement towards the all Wales target of 20,000 carbon dioxide (CO2) tonnes per annum.

To introduce a new tool for monitoring the carbon footprint of inhalers used in Wales.

The data requirements for the tool were determined using a nominal group technique. A literature search was conducted to identify any available sources of inhaler carbon footprint values that would be used to inform the required analyses. A collaborative approach with specialist groups was adopted to develop and pilot the dashboard.

The nominal group technique identified the essential minimal dataset required. These were data relating to quantity, cost, and carbon footprint of the inhalers prescribed. Data for quantity and cost of inhalers used were already available to the unit. A literature search revealed a reliable source of inhaler carbon footprint values for developing the initial dashboard, and any updating required as additional inhalers are presented within the dataset.[2] Through the collaborative approach with specialist groups, a dashboard was developed and piloted with selected individuals within Wales. Feedback was then attained and actioned upon where appropriate, before the dashboard was made readily available to all NHS Wales employees.

The new monitoring tool went live in January 2022 and provides data on inhaler quantity, spend and carbon footprint at an all Wales, Health Board, cluster and GP practice level. This enables reporting at a national and organisational level, as well as lower down to specific geographies. Ongoing work involves the addition of new inhalers, refreshing with the most recent data, and updating the background carbon footprint values held within the tool. These are instigated on an issuing of changes in the supporting reference data values.[2]

The availability of a tool to report on the carbon footprint of inhalers used within Wales provides a consistent data source to support the strategic delivery plan targets. A strength of this work has been to deliver a meaningful tool in support of this aim. Whilst a limitation is that we do not know the exact impact of the tool in making the change happen, we are aware that the tool is used on a regular basis by stakeholders.

1. Powlesland D, Joyce C. NHS Wales Decarbonisation Strategic Delivery Plan 2021-2030. 2021. Available from:

2. Homan K. Bulletin 295. Inhaler carbon footprint. 2021. Available from:

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