The Energy Saving Trust (EST) is offering Department for Transport funded Green Fleet Reviews to all NHS Trusts.
These reviews recommend implementable measures to increase the sustainability of the Trust’s fleet, which could save up to 250 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. In line with the Long Term Plan targets, these recommendations work to both reduce emissions from fleet as well as business mileage.
Air pollution is the single biggest environmental threat to health in the UK. According to the latest report from the Environment Agency ‘State of the environment: health, people and the environment’, updated this week (September 8), air pollution is responsible for shortening tens of thousands of lives each year. It can exacerbate pre-existing conditions and long-term exposure to air pollution has been associated with dementia, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
There is also believed to be a correlation between air pollution and susceptibility to infections as well as the effectiveness of the antibiotics used to treat them. This is particularly pertinent as the response to COVID-19 continues. Some of the chronic diseases that air pollution can cause have been identified as increasing the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms. It has also been suggested that there may be an association between levels of air pollution and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, although further research is necessary to clarify the magnitude of this association.
Throughout lockdown, levels of air pollution decreased substantially, but since lockdown has eased and the activities of people have resumed, these levels have started to creep up again.
In order to accurately understand the challenges of each Trust or organisation, the EST will visit the sites, speak to the relevant teams and analyse all available data. It will provide a review which includes recommendations and guidance around:
• Changing fuel types
• Reducing fuel usage
• Reducing business mileage
Advice may also cover encouraging active travel in staff or supporting the increased use of public transport.
Staff can help too
In the NHS Green Plan, published in January this year, every single NHS employee was encouraged to take what action they can towards a greener NHS. One way of engaging with this is for staff to continue with behaviour change as a result of COVID-19, for example, continuing to hold virtual meetings, which means less travelling. Other ways include introducing schemes for active travel, promoting cycling and walking to work wherever possible instead of driving.