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24 January 2024

Nicole Fletcher, Sustainable Procurement Lead, NHS England said: “This [is] a valuable review into the benefits of reusable gowns. We hope it will encourage more NHS trusts to make the switch and save on carbon and cost, whilst delivering a better outcome for clinicians on comfort and protection.”

Health Innovation North West Coast is pleased to have delivered a detailed report for the NHS England Net Zero and Sustainable Procurement team: Understanding the benefits of a switch from single-use to reusable surgical and isolation gowns. 

Single-use gowns are one of the most carbon-intensive PPE items, with considerable opportunity to realise both carbon and financial savings through increased uptake of reusable gowns. Additionally, research says that reusable gowns not only meet the same protection standards as single use, they can even outperform in key safety test areas when combined with good-practice guidance for wearers.

Health Innovation NWC’s report on gowns is designed to help inform NHS trusts throughout the country who are considering switching to reusable gowns to reduce their environmental impact and help reach their own net zero goals. It includes recommendations, methodology for switching to reusable gowns, and a number of case studies using different laundry service models.

Nicole Fletcher, Sustainable Procurement Lead, NHS England said: “This Health Innovation NWC report provides a valuable review into the benefits of reusable gowns. We hope it will encourage more NHS trusts to make the switch and save on carbon and cost, whilst delivering a better outcome for clinicians on comfort and protection.”

Health Innovation NWC conducted a case study analysis and face-to-face interviews with the featured sites to understand the successes and barriers to reusable sterile gown implementation. A number of recommendations emerged, including delivering events where staff can wear and feel proposed products, and involve staff in decision making where possible, such as determining the laundry service model.

Laura Boland, Head of Innovation Pipeline, Evaluation and Insights, at Health Innovation NWC, said, “The findings in this report are a positive example of what is possible. We hope it will give Trusts the confidence to change gown usage to make their operations more sustainable. We look forward to continue working with the NHS England Net Zero and Sustainable Procurement team and our wider Health Innovation Network to help the NHS reach its Net Zero 2045 ambition."

Read the report's full findings and recommendations. NHS staff should email england.ccf@nhs.net to access additional resources including how-to guides.

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