8th January 2019

NHS prescribes cleaner air for its fleet

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The NHS has pledged to reduce air pollution by 20 per cent from its ambulances and other vehicles by 2024, it has said.

The commitment for better air quality was made in the national health service’s new high-profile long-term plan, as part of an effort to reduce the impact of particulate pollution in the UK.

Nearly 30 per cent of preventable deaths in England are due to non-communicable diseases specifically attributed to air pollution, with more than 2,000 GP practices and 200 hospitals situated in areas affected by dangerously dirty air.

“Specifically, we will cut business mileages and fleet air pollutant emissions by 20 per cent by 2023/24,” the NHS said.

The EU has ordered the UK government to bring its air quality back in line with EU limits, and local authorities are under pressure to develop Clean Air Plans.

By 2028, at least 90 per cent of the NHS fleet will use low-emission engines, with at least a quarter of those being ‘ultra-low emission’ and in addition, the NHS is going to roll out more ‘virtual’ appointments, including telephone and video consultations, in a bid to reduce patient and staff travel.

The plan promised: “Under this Long-Term Plan, digital-first primary care will become a new option for every patient improving fast access to convenient primary care.

“Over the next five years every patient in England will have a new right to choose this option – usually from their own practice or, if they prefer, from one of the new digital GP providers.”

The NHS also pledged to phase out coal and oil fuel for primary heating on NHS sites by 2028 and also used its 10-year plan to highlight other sustainability achievements. However, the health service admitted it still faces a “significant challenge” to deliver its targets of cutting emissions 34 per cent by 2020 and 51 per cent by 2025.

These targets are set out in NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy for England that calculates the service’s carbon targets in line with the requirements of the Climate Change Act.


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