RCPCH responds to air quality alerts for London healthcare professionals

The Mayor of London has announced the introduction of air quality alerts for health professionals in London, following a commitment to do so made at an Air Quality and Health Summit in 2022.
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The alert will act as an early warning system for periods of high/very high air pollution (which they believe will be approximately 4-5 times per year) and provide clear, evidence-based and specific recommendations for action to help reduce avoidable harm. Each alert will be issued jointly by NHS England London and the Mayor of London.

These alerts will act as an early warning system to GPs and ED staff for periods of high air pollution and provide recommendations for action to reduce avoidable harm, which NHSE have helped to develop.

RCPCH President, Dr Camilla Kingdon, said: 

Paediatricians have long warned about the damaging impact air pollution is having on our health and the health of children. Air pollution is now the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK, with children being particularly vulnerable. 

These newly announced air quality alerts are an important step forward in arming healthcare professionals with the information and context needed to reduce harm associated with air pollution and to treat their patients to the very best of their abilities. When it comes to air pollution, knowledge is power, so we want to see this initiative evaluated and rolled out to other cities, and for paediatric-specific alerts to be developed with tailored information for children, whom we know are especially impacted.

We also cannot allow air pollution to become the new normal. Stronger air quality targets aligned with WHO guidelines are key to improving the quality of the air we breathe and safeguarding the health of current and future generations – and there is clear evidence that these targets can be achieved by 2030, ten years sooner than current government ambition. We can’t have an extra decade of children breathing dirty air; therefore, we are calling on the UK Government to strengthen air quality targets as soon as possible. Children have a right to clean air, and we must fight for it to become a reality.