British health services launches climate campaign

The “For a greener NHS” campaign aims to tackle the causes of air pollution and climate change in an effort to prevent illnesses, reduce pressure on emergency wards and save lives.

Air pollution is linked to deadly conditions such as heart diseases, stroke and lung cancer, and contributes to around 36,000 deaths annually in the UK. The causes of air pollution and climate change are also often the same, which is why Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) has announced that it will tackle the climate ‘health emergency’ with its new “For a greener NHS” campaign.

“With almost 700 people dying potentially avoidable deaths due to air pollution every week we are facing a health emergency as well as a climate emergency,” said NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens.

“While the NHS is already a world leader in sustainability, as the biggest employer in this country comprising nearly a tenth of the UK economy, we’re both part of the problem and part of the solution,” Stevens added. “That’s why today we are mobilising our 1.3 million staff to take action for a greener NHS, and it’s why we’ll be working with the world’s leading experts to help set a practical, evidence-based and ambitious date for the NHS to reach net zero.”

The NHS will take several steps over the course of 2020 to tackle air pollution and climate change. For example, it will establish an expert panel to make the NHS the world’s first major health service to reach net zero by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its own supply chain and using technology to avoid redundant outpatient appointments and reduce unnecessary trips to and from the hospital. It will also propose new standards to reduce carbon from buildings while also switching to less polluting anesthetic gases and better asthma inhalers. In addition, the NHS is launching a grassroots campaign to encourage staff and hospitals to cut their impact on people’s health and environment.

“Everyone who works in healthcare has a responsibility to take action on the health emergency posed by climate change, and I encourage all NHS staff to join the campaign to feed in their ideas and help drive this forward,” said Dr. Nick Watts, chair of the new NHS Net Zero Expert Panel.

Image credit: National Cancer Institute via Unsplash

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