Air pollution is the UK's largest environmental health risk, as long term exposure can increase the incidence of lung, heart and circulatory problems1. Approximately 30% of preventable deaths in England are due to non-communicable diseases which are connected with air pollution, putting a significant burden on the NHS2. Unless air quality is improved, the health and social care costs of air pollution in England could reach £18.6 billion by 2035.3
In response to this, the Integrated Care for Cleaner Air initiative was established to improve air quality and health outcomes across England by supporting every Integrated Care System (ICS) to become a Clean Air Champion. This initiative is a partnership between Global Action Plan, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Boehringer Ingelheim.
The ICS Clean Air Framework
The ICS Clean Air Framework is a free tool enabling ICS leaders to take action to secure cleaner air and a healthier future for their region. The Framework can be used to develop a stand-alone Clean Air Action Plan, or to integrate and prioritise clean air actions in a Green Plan.
The ICS Clean Air Framework links to the mandated requirements of Green Plans, NHS Standard Contract and ‘Delivering a Net Zero NHS’ report and builds on from Global Action Plan’s Clean Air Hospital Framework, to tackle the sources and impacts of air pollution at a system level.
The Framework is divided into 8 themes which help support an ICS to tackle air pollution.
- Engaging patients through educating staff
- Local Authority Collaboration
- Strategic decision making
- Supply Chain
- Whole Health Care Approach
The ICS Clean Air Framework will help an ICS Net Zero lead to self-assess, track and report progress on each action/requirement towards cleaner air.
North East and North Cumbria case study
From 2021-22, Global Action Plan worked with the North East and North Cumbria ICS (NENC), to identify the opportunities to improve air quality at healthcare facilities and across the local area. By making sure air quality levels are controlled around health centres, this project is helping to protect the people who need to visit hospitals most frequently and improve local population health.
Working with members of the NENC ICS we explored the challenge of air pollution in the area and opportunities for improvement, presented in the ‘Levers for Change’ report. Together we then developed and tested the ICS Clean Air Framework and developed the UK’s first ever ICS Clean Air Action Plan.
The ‘Levers for Change’ report, provides unprecedented insight into air pollution levels and sources across the North East of England. The report highlights how air pollution is linked to health challenges and inequalities and identifies key opportunities that would be offered by the development of an ICS-focused Action Plan.
The insights gathered from the ‘Levers for Change’ report, together with additional contributions from 5 ICSs, will inform the development of the ICS Clean Air Framework, which will launch in June 2022.
The Integrated Care for Cleaner Air initiative has been generated through a partnership between North East and North Cumbria ICS, Global Action Plan and Boehringer Ingelheim.
1 DEFRA 2019. Clean Air Strategy 2019. Available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/770715/clean-air-strategy-2019.pdf [Accessed 9 June 2022]
2 GOV.UK. 2022. Health matters: air pollution. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-air-pollution/health-matters-air-pollution [Accessed 1 February 2022].
3 Public Health England. 2018. Estimation of costs to the NHS and social care due to the health impacts of air pollution: summary report. Available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/708855/Estimation_of_costs_to_the_NHS_and_social_care_due_to_the_health_impacts_of_air_pollution_-_summary_report.pdf. Accessed 24 November 2021.