A nurse has warned that climate change will “tear apart” the health system and could lead to more deaths in the UK.
Speaking at a conference in London on Tuesday, Julie Atherton, a neuroscientist at the National Neuroscience Institute, said a growing number of research papers have highlighted the potential for more extreme weather events and climate change to lead to increased risk for hospital admissions and deaths.
Ms Athertons paper, published in Nature on Monday, examined the potential effects of increasing global temperatures on hospital admissions in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as the impacts of changing climate conditions.
Ms Elizabeth Haines, a spokeswoman for the NHS Confederation, said: “As a result of this and other scientific evidence, the NHS will continue to work with our partners to help manage the impacts that climate is having on the UK and the rest of the world.”
“We have already seen some of these trends in recent years, including increases in deaths from heart attacks, strokes, respiratory infections and cancer,” she added.
“As we look to the future, we must also be aware that the NHS is at the forefront of climate science.”
She added: “We must also take climate change seriously and ensure that we are doing all we can to reduce CO2 emissions, but it is not enough.”
The report by the UK’s National Neuroscientist said that in 2020, the UK was projected to experience an increase of 4.4 per cent in deaths and 1.8 per cent of hospital admissions, which is roughly equivalent to the world’s population.
However, it noted that climate conditions in the country could mean that there could be “much higher” increases in hospital admissions as a result.
“The NHS is aware that more research is needed to understand the impact of increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere on our health,” Ms Atherts paper stated.
“However, the potential increases in CO2 will be much higher than previously predicted, and will be likely to cause much higher increases in health problems such as hospital admissions.”
In the UK, the highest increases will be in people who are at increased risk of developing CO2-related diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
“The National Neuroscientific Institute is one of the countrys leading neuroscience centres, where Ms Aterton has a long-standing role.
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (RCP) said that while climate change is a problem, it is important to remember that the impacts are not necessarily as bad as people make them out to be.”
There is no doubt that the UK health system is suffering from a number of adverse effects of climate and its impacts on the health of the population, but we must remember that these impacts are largely of a medical and scientific nature,” it said in a statement.”
It is critical that we take this very serious climate issue seriously, and do everything we can, including through the NHS, to reduce the impact on the NHS and people’s lives.
“For the NHS to be able to continue to provide high quality health care for all, and to provide the most effective care to patients and their families, we will need to manage the impact from climate change.”
The Royal British Legion also called for action.
“We must act now and avoid the worst impacts of climate as a matter of urgency,” it added.