Tackling air quality to improve health
Our NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s sustainability team is working with a range of partners on some pioneering projects to tackle poor air quality and its effects on health.
One of the most innovative schemes so far has seen us partner with Liverpool John Moores University in late 2022 to launch a pilot monitoring internal and external air quality at the new Royal Hospital in the city.
Air pollution kills more than 7 million people annually and the numbers are rising. These emissions are also responsible for our changing climate, directly contributing to global warming.
The NHS is responsible for 5% of these emissions in the UK and as we strive to reach net zero we are committed to simultaneously tackling climate change and improving the health of the people we serve.
How does this improve services for patients?
Across Cheshire and Merseyside childhood asthma is rising and we know that a third of all deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution. We can tackle this together with our partners, stakeholders and the wider community.
By monitoring air quality at the Royal Hospital we aim to assess whether our hospitals are healthy for staff, patients and visitors. It also helps us to take action to better protect health, such as scheduling clinics to times of day when air pollution is generally lower, along with identifying the polluting source and taking steps to mitigate against it.
Additionally, the pilot will help to raise awareness of the effects of air pollution and encourage staff, patients and visitors to use active travel or public transport and reduce their own carbon footprint to help tackle global emissions and climate change.
Air quality data gathered at the Royal Hospital is analysed alongside traffic and weather sensor data to give a full picture of emissions. Monitoring will continue over the long term so we can fully understand how we can better manage and mitigate against the effects of air pollution on health and the environment.
As our work on air quality gains momentum, more and more partners from across Cheshire and Merseyside are joining us to consider what more we can achieve together.
Along with Liverpool John Moores University, this includes primary care colleagues, other hospital trusts, voluntary, community and faith organisations and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
In 2023 we are working with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to pilot the NHS England ‘Healthy Hospital Street’ initiative and we will be supporting colleagues to redesign the asthma treatment pathway for Cheshire and Merseyside.