Sustainable healthcare

Our department is home to world leaders in the environmental sustainability of healthcare, focussing on research, teaching and engagement directed towards avoiding low value therapy, reducing the use of unnecessary medical equipment/medications, reusing equipment and recycling.

Meet some of our members

Associate Professor Forbes McGain

Forbes McGain

Forbes is an anaesthetist and intensive care physician at Western Health, Melbourne, Australia, and an Associate Professor (Medicine) at the University of Sydney, and the University of Melbourne.

He enjoys being involved in research, teaching and education at the hospital, university and beyond. Forbes remains passionate about making seemingly small environmental sustainability changes to how we practice medicine that become magnified through every nations’ hospitals. His love of nature affects everything he does at work, home, and well, anywhere…

Professor Eugenie Kayak

Eugenie Kayak

Eugenie Kayak was recently appointed Enterprise Professor in Sustainable Healthcare in the Department of Critical Care, Melbourne Medical School.

Professor Kayak is a consultant anaesthetist at Austin and Alfred Health. For over a decade she has been a leader and champion for sustainable healthcare, working with Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), her own specialty, the AMA and wider medical profession to raise awareness of, and address, healthcare’s carbon footprint and environmental impact. Professor Kayak is presently Convenor of DEA’s national Sustainable Healthcare Special Interest Group and is a past DEA Board member and co-chair.

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Dr Jess Davies

Dr Jess Davies

Dr Jess Davies is an anaesthetist at Austin Health, Honorary Lecturer in the Department of Critical Care and co-founder of the TRA2SH Research Network, empowering others to make real-world changes to reduce the carbon footprint of healthcare.

Jess is starting a PhD to explore how we can implement environmental sustainability into operating theatres, which are one of the highest carbon areas in hospitals. There is already plenty of research about the environmental and financial benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling in operating theatres so she wants to explore how we can actually overcome the barriers to deliver high quality healthcare that doesn’t cost the earth.

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Current research

Some current projects being undertaken by our research group include:

  • Jess Davies: translating healthcare environmental sustainability research.
  • Hayden Burch, Eugenie Kayak, Forbes McGain et al. How much N2O is used in Australia's public hospitals?
  • Forbes McGain, Scott McAlister et al. The carbon footprint of a total knee replacement (surgery/anaesthesia/engineering).
  • Forbes McGain et al. Using an electronic medical record to reduce ICU clotting profiles.

Disaster and terror medicine courses

Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate and Specialist Certificate study options available.

Equip yourself with evidence-based best practice to confidently respond to disaster and
terror events in a changing world. The knowledge and experience of disaster and terror medicine specialists is crucial when managing crisis events in community and healthcare environments, such as hospitals, trauma units, and other health services. We’ll equip you with the skills to respond quickly and decisively.

Developed by the University of Melbourne’s Department of Critical Care in consultation with industry, the courses draw on the extensive knowledge and real-world experience of Australian and international experts, including leading emergency physician, Professor George Braitberg AM, who heads up the department’s emergency medicine program.

Online delivery provides you with the flexibility to fit study around work and personal commitments. Your experience will be enriched with a face-to-face program, which provides you the opportunity to put what you’ve learned into practice through a series of workshops.

Disaster and Terror Medicine is a system-orientated specialty that intersects clinical medicine and emergency responding agencies and is relevant to clinicians (including doctors, nurses, clinical leaders); emergency services (including paramedics, emergency responders); hospital administrators; government and policy makers; social workers; and the military.

Sustainability and Planetary Health Action Network (SPHAN)

Our SPHAN committee meet regularly to:

  • Promote research, learning and teaching, and engagement in sustainable healthcare across the areas of anaesthesia, perioperative and pain medicine, intensive care medicine and emergency medicine.
  • Engage with the University, affiliated hospitals, the critical care community and the broader community to promote its activities.

SPHAN Committee members:

Professor Eugenie Kayak, Enterprise Professor in Sustainable Healthcare
Associate Professor Forbes McGain 
Dr Simon Judkins
Dr Jess Davies
Dr Hayden Burch
Dr Scott McAlister
Dr Richard Seglenieks
Dr Sophia Grobler
Dr Ben Dunne
Dr Rebecca McIntyre
Dr Cara Moore
Dr Nancy Sadka
Professor David Story
Ms Anna Parker
Dr Stacy Turner

Selected publications

Leadership in healthcare environmental sustainability:

  • Kayak E, Burch H. Australian health sector leadership and roadmap for healthcare decarbonisation to net zero emissions. The Journal of Climate Change and Health. 2021;4:100081. doi:10.1016/j.joclim.2021.100081
  • McGain F, Ma SC, Burrell RH, et al. Why be sustainable? The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists Professional Document PS64: Statement on Environmental Sustainability in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine Practice and its accompanying background paper. Anaesth Intensive Care. 2019;47(5):413-422. doi:10.1177/0310057X19884075
  • McGain F, Story D, Kayak E, Kashima Y, McAlister S. Workplace Sustainability: The “Cradle to Grave” View of What We Do. Anesthesia & Analgesia. 2012;114(5):1134-1139. doi:10.1213/ANE.0b013e31824ddfef
  • Barratt AL, Bell KJ, Charlesworth K, McGain F. High value health care is low carbon health care. Med J Aust. 2022;216(2). Accessed February 7, 2022. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2022/216/2/high-value-health-care-low-carbon-health-care
  • McGain F, Kayak E, Burch H. A sustainable future in health: ensuring as health professionals our own house is in order and leading by example. Medical Journal of Australia. 2020;213(8):381-381.e1. doi:10.5694/mja2.50787
  • Burch H, Anstey MH, McGain F. Renewable energy use in Australian public hospitals. Medical Journal of Australia. 2021;215(4):160. doi:10.5694/mja2.51197
  • Wilson S, Rixon A, Hartanto S, White P, Judkins S. Review article: Systematic literature review of leadership in emergency departments. Emergency Medicine Australasia. 2020;32(6):935-952. doi:10.1111/1742-6723.13658
  • Burch H, McGain F. Victorian public healthcare Chief Executive Officers’ views on renewable energy supply. Australian Health Review. 2021;45:7-11. doi: doi.org/10.1071/AH20248
  • Wong A, Gynther A, Li C, Rounds M, Lee JH, Krieser D, Posma E, McGain F. Quantitative nitrous oxide usage by different specialties and current patterns of use in a single hospital, British Journal of Anaesthesia, Volume 129, Issue 3, 2022, Pages e59-e60, ISSN 0007-0912, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bja.2022.05.022.

Carbon Footprint of Healthcare and Life-cycle Assessment Studies:

In the media

#OutOfTheBox: Join DoCC member and emergency medicine specialist Dr Simon Judkins for his #OutOfTheBox column, published by Croakey, where he shares conversations on climate and health. https://www.croakey.org/category/outofthebox/

Climate change and sustainability: leadership, action from doctors. Professor Eugenie Kayak, Dr John Van Der Kallen and Professor Stephen Robson. InSight Plus, 15 Aug 2022.

Health care is responsible for 7% of our carbon emissions, and there are safe and easy ways this can be reduced. Scott McAlister, The University of Melbourne and Alexandra Barratt, University of Sydney in The Conversation,  3 Aug 2022.

Have you stopped wearing reusable fabric masks? Here’s how to cut down waste without compromising your health. Aleasha McCallion, Monash University; Forbes McGain, The University of Melbourne, and Kim Borg, Monash University in The Conversation, 28 Jan 2022.

COP26: opportunities missed for Australian health care. Professor Eugenie Kayak. InSight Plus, 13 Dec 2021.

Hospital environmental sustainability: end of the beginning. Professor Eugenie Kayak and Associate Professor Forbes McGain. InSight Plus, 31 May 2021.

Roadmap to sustainable health care. Professor Eugenie Kayak. InSight Plus, 3 May 2021.

Health care must be part of climate change solution. Professor Eugenie Kayak and Dr Hayden Burch. InSight Plus, 14 Dec 2020.