The Gibraltar Health Authority have announced the introduction of a policy for the gradual reduction of single use plastic items at St Bernard’s Hospital and across other GHA departments.

The initiative follows an exercise conducted by Matrons at St Bernard’s Hospital over several months, who evaluated the quantity of plastic items, consumables, medicine pots, cups, eating utensils and crockery, used in the different wards and departments, with the aim of substituting such items with biodegradable materials over a period of time. The introduction of the policy comes as part of a wider Gibraltar Government led campaign for more environmentally friendly practices throughout public services.

Director of Nursing Services, Ms Sandie Gracia said: “We are not eliminating plastics altogether, but reducing the use of these items and introducing more ecological alternatives. For instance, we will be reverting to the use of glass crockery and traditional kitchen utensils.”

Ms Gracia explained that staff were always looking at ways to address patient’s needs, and had noted that frail and elderly persons were far more comfortable using traditional utensils than plastic utensils. She added: “Raising the benchmark of patient care, making things easier for them, is always a primary consideration for us, and our medical teams are constantly reviewing the systems in place to ensure we maintain top quality standards. We are always campaigning internally to re-educate GHA staff on the importance of adopting environmentally friendly practices in the workplace. We also constantly engage with patients and their relatives to ensure excellent care at the point of delivery.

In addition to this plastic reduction initiative, recycling bins have been installed throughout the GHA sites.

Minister for Health, Care and Justice, the Honourable Neil F. Costa MP said: “Her Majesty’s Government is committed to environmentally friendly practices; therefore, the initiative to reduce the use of single plastic items at St Bernard’s Hospital and across the GHA is something I wholeheartedly wished to implement as soon as possible. The introduction of biodegradable materials to replace many of the day-to-day single-use plastic items that are used in the GHA is a right step in the right direction to protect the environment. It is a policy that we have embraced to contribute in lessening the damage that plastics can cause.”