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Mayor launches UK’s first targeted air quality alert for healthcare professionals

  • March 11, 2024
  • 2 min read
Mayor launches UK’s first targeted air quality alert for healthcare professionals

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has written to all London GP practices and NHS emergency departments announcing plans to improve the way that healthcare professionals are informed about incidents of poor air quality in the capital.

Developed by the Mayor, NHS England and other partners, new alerts will directly notify clinicians in GP practices and emergency departments across the capital via email about high and very high pollution episodes. This is the first healthcare air pollution alert of its kind in the UK. It hopes to help recipients increase their patients’ awareness about the health impacts of poor air quality and better support those at greater risk, such as adults and children with heart or lung problems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that air pollution is the single biggest environmental threat to human health. It impairs children’s lung growth, increases the risk of lung cancer, heart and lung disease, and causes premature death. Short-term exposure to high levels of pollution can trigger or worsen people’s asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) symptoms. In London, asthma is one of the top three causes of emergency admission to hospital each year for children, underlining the need to better support health professionals in communicating the adverse effects of air pollution to patients.

The new alert has been informed by the best available evidence and extensive engagement with a broad range of stakeholders and experts, including academics, clinical networks, third sector partners, behavioural scientists, ethicists, and clinicians. The alert provides information for health care professionals to use with patients, including on inhaler use and physical activity during high pollution episodes as well as advice on the steps individuals can take to reduce their contribution to air pollution.

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