‘Environmentally-friendly ambulances would cut toxic impact of NHS road journeys’

NHS chief executive says ‘green’ ambulance fleets would cut risk to health from air pollution

NHS chief executive says ‘green’ ambulance fleets would cut risk to health from air pollution

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Environmentally-friendly ambulances must be manufactured to help tackle air pollution that causes cancer, lung disease and heart problems, England's NHS chief executive said.

An estimated one in three people live in areas with dangerously high levels of air pollution, while more than 2,000 GP practices and 200 hospitals in England are in areas blighted by toxic air.

Challenge to manufacturers

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the health service will step up action to tackle the issue at source. He challenged vehicle manufacturers to help cut the air pollution that contributes to around 40,000 deaths each year by developing more environmentally friendly ambulances.

He said: 'Air pollution is one of our great but under-recognised health challenges, and the NHS can help tackle the causes as well as the consequences, which evidence suggests hits the most vulnerable hardest.

'The NHS Long Term Plan has set out our blueprint for a successful and sustainable health service fit for the future, and now we want ambulance manufacturers to help by developing more environmentally friendly vehicles.’

Mr Stevens said this would also ensure extra investment in the NHS was well spent by reducing the economic impact of air pollution on the health service, bringing benefits for taxpayers as well as patients.

The NHS accounts for almost 10 billion journeys each year – around 3.5% of all road travel – as staff and patients travel to work and appointments and medical supplies are delivered.

The new long-term plan for the NHS has promised to cut mileage and air pollution from rapid-response vehicles, patient transport and staff journeys by a fifth by 2024 and ensuring nine out of ten vehicles are low emission within a decade.

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