NEWCASTLE mum Kaja Gersinska has become the first person in the UK to use climate-friendly pain relief during labour after giving birth at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Entonox, also known as gas and air, is a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen and has been used to provide pain relief for women in labour for over a hundred years.
However, nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas, almost 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and escapes into the atmosphere after being exhaled by a patient.
Kaja gave birth to her beautiful daughter, Rosie Martha O’Sullivan, who weighed 6llb 6oz, in the Newcastle Birthing Centre yesterday (9 September) and breathed the gas and air into a Mobile Destruction Unit (MDU) – a machine designed to collect and destroy residual nitrous oxide from exhaled gas and air.
“I feel very privileged and proud actually – it’s the little things you don’t often think about and it’s nice that someone thought about making these changes which will be better for the environment and for midwives who are working here all the time.
“I didn’t expect this when I came here today – I just came to have my baby – but I started on the traditional machine and then swapped over. It was quieter and much more comfortable to hold – it’s nice to make a little bit of history!”
Little Rosie, who was delivered by midwife Lindsay Craney, is Kaja and dad Craig’s second child as they already have a two-year-old daughter Cassie.
The technology, developed by Medclair, is widely used in Sweden and collects the exhaled nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, and ‘cracks’ it into nitrogen and oxygen which are harmless.
The MDU purifies 99.6% of the nitrous oxide entering the unit and as well having a huge benefit to the environment it also benefits staff by reducing the amount of nitrous oxide they are exposed to while they work.
Chris Allen, Sustainable Anaesthesia Fellow at Newcastle Hospitals said “This is a really exciting day for the whole team involved in developing this project at Newcastle Hospitals. It has been a huge team effort including staff from maternity services and our sustainability and estates teams.”
“Rolling this technology out across our maternity unit can help us to continue to support women to use gas and air during labour, whilst making it as environmentally friendly as possible.”
“We have an ambitious plan to become a global leader in sustainable healthcare delivery and introducing innovative technology like this can help us to achieve that.”
Newcastle Hospitals is well known for its award winning Shine (Sustainable Healthcare in Newcastle) programme and was the first healthcare organisation in the world to declare a climate emergency, in recognition that the climate emergency is a health emergency. The Trust is also committed to the ambitious goal of becoming a net-zero carbon organisation by 2030.
Chief Executive of Medclair Jonas Lundh said: “Working in the green medtech area I’m extremely impressed by the NHS Newcastle team, I’ve never seen such a display of action on the fact that there is a global climate crisis as we saw in Newcastle. We are delighted to be a supplier to the trust and we look forward to Rosie’s generation being born in a climate friendly way.”
The Trust’s Associate Director – Sustainability, James Dixon, added: “We’ve made significant progress in reducing the environmental impact of our anaesthetic care pathways in recent years, with a 23% reduction in anaesthetic gas carbon emissions last year alone.
“All of this has been led by clinicians who are passionate about planetary, as well as patient, health. Our use of Entonox (gas and air) is by far the biggest contributor to our anaesthetic gas carbon footprint and in adopting this innovative technology we will see thousands of tonnes of carbon saved (or the equivalent annual carbon emissions of 150 UK citizens).”
“This is just one example of how we are embedding sustainability into our healthcare services, working hard to empower staff to make sustainable choices for the benefit of our patients and the planet.”
Sustainable Healthcare in Newcastle (Shine)
Newcastle Hospitals has a long-standing reputation for delivering outstanding healthcare services with sustainability as a priority. The Trust’s vision for sustainability is to be a global leader in sustainable healthcare delivery through collaboration and innovation, helping our patients and communities to thrive within the means of the planet. Read more about Shine and our Climate Emergency commitments here.