New clean air initiative launched for England’s North East and Cumbria

A scheme to tackle poor air quality around hospitals and community health hubs aims to reduce deaths in a region recording more air pollution-related fatalities than the UK capital. 

A new clean air initiative has been set up in North East England and Cumbria, which policymakers hope will help bring down the region’s death rate linked PM2.5 air pollution, which is currently higher than that of London. 

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For the past six months, the environmental change charity Global Action Plan has been working closely with the UK’s leading sustainability Integrated Care System (ICS) in the North East and Cumbria region (NENC). As part of this, the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has already committed to ensuring all staff receive sustainability training, and is embedding green procurement across the organisation, while encouraging ICS members to switch to renewable energy tariffs. This forms part of the wider Integrated Care for Cleaner Air project, which aims to help every ICS in England become a Clean Air Champion, delivered through a partnership between Newcastle Hospitals, Global Action Plan, and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Findings from the Newcastle pilot have been published in a new report, ‘Levers for Change’. The document not only offers an unprecedented insight into air pollution levels and sources across the North East of England, but also analyses changes hospitals and health centres can make to improve air quality, highlighting the links between pollution and health inequalities, and identifies opportunities created through the establishment of an ICS. 

‘Sadly we know that people in the North East and North Cumbria are disproportionately burdened by ill health. The research presented in the ‘Levers for Change’ report is key to understanding the impact that air quality has on the health
outcomes of the people of the region, and the framework will be an extremely useful resource for us, as an ICS to use, to identify ways to work across organisations and reduce the impact that poor air quality has on the health and quality of life for the most vulnerable members of our society,’ said James Dixon, Associate Director Sustainability at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

‘It is vital that we tackle air pollution at the regional ICS level, with partners from all across the health system, across primary and secondary care but also with local government – it is vital that everyone understands the NHS cannot tackle air pollution alone,’ added Larissa Lockwood, Director of Clean Air, Global Action Plan. ‘Insights from the ‘Levers for Change’ report will be packaged into an interactive, freely available tool for all Integrated Care Systems in England to use. This tool will build on the Clean Air Hospital Framework developed in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital.’

Earlier this year, it was found that every medical centre in London exceeded World Health Organisation limits on air pollution, with a previous study revealing one in four hospitals in the UK broke standards for dangerous PM2.5 fine particulate matter



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2 years ago

I looked at the Defra Air Quality monotoring webpages and I can’t see any sites for Cumbria but perhaps I am mistaken? I see this is is not a UK Government initiative, at least not through the Defra network. Shame on them but a big thankyou to the Global Action Plan charity, the ICS and the NHS involvement. I would like to see this same project extended to other UK areas where there is presently no official PM2.5 measuring going on. Isn’t it time all UK hospitals had fine particulate and NO2 monitoring statiions at the gates? If the problem is money, perhaps our government can adjust its priorities? I am truly shocked that this beautiful area, NENC, fares worse than London for pollution-related (early) deaths. Do we know the sources of that air pollution? Perhaps once the level is firmly known, the polluters/pollutants can be reigned in? And might it be the same in a number of other parts of the UK, where monoitoring is still insufficient? Why should the burden be on treating patients after they’ve become ill? Why not stop the pollution, if we can, in the first place?

Mike Parsons
Mike Parsons
2 years ago
Reply to  chris

I have lived in the Ullswater area for 25 yrs and being new to the area then asked questions as to why so man y houses burnt coal so why no clear air act provisions? The answer I got was that Cumbria used to have 90 Coal mines and and also lots of metal minerals were formerly mined and extracted. So there was a simple cultural lack of concern if not resistance. Still today the Lake District has less restrictions thane London so one can make as much smoke, CO2, noise as you like.

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