London air pollution

Healthcare-targeted air pollution alerts launch in London for UK first

Clinicians in GP practices and emergency departments are set to be directly notified about high pollution episodes in a move signalling the first healthcare-targeted air pollution alert of its kind in the UK.

The alerts are being launched in London having been developed by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, along with NHS England (NHSE).

Khan wrote to all London GP practices and emergency departments yesterday detailing his plans, which aim to help NHS professionals better educate patients about the impacts of air pollution.

“…we’re empowering London’s frontline clinicians…”

Air quality alerts were introduced in London in 2016 and 217 moderate pollution alerts as well as 19 high pollution alerts have been issued in the years since.

These alerts go to Londoners, schools and boroughs, with GPs and A&Es now set to be added to that list.

Like the already existing system, the alert will use insight from experts at Imperial College London to forecast air pollution, notifying people before and the day of air pollution episodes.

Sadiq Khan said: “By launching the UK’s first targeted healthcare air quality alert, we’re empowering London’s frontline clinicians to stay informed and better support their patients.”

The World Health Organisation considers air pollution the biggest threat to human health, given its links to a wide range of lung complications, such as growth problems, cancer and asthma.

“This new system aims to support GPs…”

NHSE London’s medical director and chief clinical information officer, Dr Chris Streather, described the system as an important step towards educating and protecting patients.

Chair of council at the Royal College of GPs, Professor Kamila Hawthorne MBE, said: “This new system aims to support GPs to better understand when the danger caused by poor air quality is at its worst, and to inform our patients of the potential impact on their health and give appropriate advice accordingly.”

There is hope that, if successful, the scheme can be expanded into other areas with high pollution, added Prof Hawthorne.

Image credit: iStock

NHE March/April 2024

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