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Green Champions Reduce Paper

Being such a large organisation with many different clinical pathways and administration processes, we rely on eagle eyed Green Champions to spot where sustainable changes could be made.

One such champ is Edward who works in the prepping team for Orthopaedics and Rheumatology. He noticed a great deal of paper clinical outcome form wastage that was generated by these departments, noting that the yellow outcome forms are rarely filled in by clinicians. If the clinician does use the form to jot down some notes about next steps, it is then passed to the admin team who can action the clinician’s plan, whether that’s referral to another clinician, discharge, follow ups, etc. Other, digital processes have now made these forms largely redundant, other than when a clinician prefers to write things down in a more analogue fashion. This led to lots of these forms being thrown away, as they were all marked with the date and code of previous clinics.

Being close to the work and understanding how the administrative processes worked, Edward was best placed to suggest a solution: he proposed that the prepping clerks should leave the clinic date and code space blank so that the clinicians can fill them in if they wish to. Edward asserted this would satisfy the consultants who still wished to use the forms, while allowing the prepping team to reuse the forms that weren’t used.

Edward raised this with the Sustainability team, and we set about connecting him to the right decision makers who could enact this change. As a result of his bright idea, it is now standard procedure to leave the date and clinic code blank on the outcome forms for Orthopaedics, and for the paper outcome forms to be left out completely in the Rheumatology notes.

This fantastic outcome sits within a wider Trust effort to reduce unnecessary paper usage. The outpatients team have worked hard to enact the following initiatives:

  • Communication between UHP and Devon & Cornwall GPs is now digital which saves paper.
  • After approval from the patient council and PALs, patients are now given a choice as to how they receive communication from the hospital, meaning they can opt out of paper letters if they wish. This reduction in paper letters also means a reduction in staff time spent printing, printer ink and postage. All of this will save the Trust money, meaning the savings can be reinvested into NHS services.
  • Work continues to encourage staff to use ICM (an electronic patient information system) to upload laboratory results rather than printing them.
  • Teams are printing fewer patient labels at any one time, meaning fewer labels are wasted if patient details change.


Individually, these paper saving initiatives may seem small, but the impact across the whole hospital is huge! Got a paper saving idea? Email us plh-tr.sustainability@nhs.net

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