latest health care news

08.09.20

Sir James Bevan: Investing in nature could save NHS billions annually

As part of a speech at University College London (UCL), Environment Agency Chief Executive Sir James Bevan is set to say universal access to a healthy natural environment could save the NHS billions of pounds a year in treatment costs.

Coinciding with the publication of the Environment Agency’s new report, The State of the Environment: health, people and the environment, which shows the green inequality in society, the speech will advocate for everyone in England to have access to good quality green space.

Sir Bevan will highlight evidence showing the physical and mental health benefits of good environment and make the case for “levelling up” access to the environment as part of the green recovery from coronavirus.

He will also lay out the steps the Environment Agency is taking to protect and enhance our precious green and blue spaces, while adapting to the threat of a changing climate.

Sir Bevan is expected to say: “Investing in a healthy environment is about the smartest thing we can do. It makes medical sense, because it will mean better health for all and less strain on the NHS. It makes economic sense, because it will save the NHS billions of pounds: the NHS could save an estimated £2.1bn every year in treatment costs if everyone in England had access to good quality green space.

“And it makes socio-political sense, because those who live in poor environments are also those who have the worst health and the lowest incomes: levelling up the environment will also help level up everything else.”

iStock-1062930150

The Environment Agency report, which draws together a wide range of evidence, finds that people living in deprived areas are not only more likely to suffer from poorer health outcomes, but also have poorer quality environments and access to less green space. One study found that city communities with 40% or more black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) residents have access to 11 times fewer green spaces locally than those comprising mainly white residents.

While the report acknowledges significant improvements which have been made in the quality of England’s air, land and water, there is still a long way left to go, with:

  • Air pollution still being the single biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, shortening tens of thousands of lives each year.
  • Antimicrobial resistant microbes becoming more common in the environment due to contamination, meaning infectious illnesses may become harder to treat.
  • Mental health conditions increasing – and can be caused or affected by pollution, flooding and climate change.
  • Substantial and growing evidence for the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in the natural environment, but that children are engaging less with nature.

The World Health Organisation estimates that environmental factors like these contribute about 14% of the total burden of disease in the UK.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, added: “The coronavirus pandemic has exposed and amplified green inequality in society. Too many towns and cities in England, especially those with a strong industrial heritage, have too little green space, too few trees, culverted rivers, poor air quality and are at risk of flooding. This holds back economic growth and the building of new homes. It’s also a fundamental moral issue.

“Areas of higher deprivation and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic populations have less access to high quality green and blue space and this contributes to differing disease burdens and life expectancy. Creating, and connecting people with, green or blue spaces will support new local jobs and benefit health & wellbeing. This is why it is important that the recovery from coronavirus is a green recovery.”

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

featured articles

View all News

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us throu more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News

comment

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental ... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >

interviews

Organ Donation Week: Having the conversation

11/09/2020Organ Donation Week: Having the conversation

As part of Organ Donation Week, NHE’s Matt Roberts spoke with our Man... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

NICE’s support for rebuilding capacity in non-Covid health services

18/09/2020NICE’s support for rebuilding capacity in non-Covid health services

Paul Chrisp, Director of the Centre for Guidelines, NICE When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK’s shores earlier this year, the NHS responded quickly, diverting and ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >