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Greater Manchester NHS declares climate emergency

by Anna Smith

NHS organisations in Greater Manchester have declared a climate emergency, committing to far-ranging action to “slash carbon emissions and avert predicted illness and disease.”

The decision means that Greater Manchester is the first integrated care system – defined as NHS bodies and council social care working together – in the country to declare a climate emergency.

The joint organisations will now develop and agree a plan before the end of the year that will show how the NHS will meet its obligations under the Climate Change Act, to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It will also support pledges made to the Greater Manchester Five Year Plan for the Environment, which has set out the ambition for the city region to be one of the globe’s healthiest, cleanest and greenest city-regions, as well as being carbon neutral by 2038.

The plan, dubbed The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership plan, will build on existing work already underway to cut the harmful impact of NHS activity on the environment, such as cutting carbon emissions from energy use by improving efficiency and using low-carbon sources. It will also work with partners to improve local transport around NHS sites, to improve air quality and cut the impact of supply chain transport and encourage reducing waste, managing waste better and reusing or recycling.

Lord Peter Smith, chair of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said that the NHS has “recognised climate change as the greatest threat we face to our health and wellbeing,” further stating that “this is urgent and we need to act now.”

He continued, “Many individual NHS organisations are taking action already but we are the first integrated care system to make this statement of a climate change emergency. We are well positioned in Greater Manchester to make a real impact because of devolution and the joined up policies we have under the Mayor of Greater Manchester for the NHS, councils and local transport.

“This means we can have an impact more quickly, for example by changing the products we buy across multiple NHS trusts, implementing new ways of using products such as medical gases and improving transport to and from NHS sites.

“The NHS has always been a strong advocate for social justice and it is critical that we respond to this threat to our way of life.”

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has announced that NHS organisations in Greater Manchester are already making progress in reducing carbon emissions and tackling environment degradation, with trusts like the Manchester University Foundation Trust already undertaking pioneering work to reduce the use of gases used in anaesthetics, which are currently harmful to the environment.