The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change has called for amendments to embed commitments to net zero within the Health and Care Bill. The letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care issued today said:

“We urge you to embed commitments to net zero within the Health and Care Bill. All legislation that passes through the House should take into consideration the fact that we are in the midst of a climate emergency. The NHS is responsible for around 40% of public sector emissions and the role it needs to play to deliver the UK’s climate change and environment goals should be strengthened in law. A strong framework in legislation shows leadership from government and will help to integrate an active response to climate change through every layer of the NHS, including the new Integrated Care Boards.”

The Health and Care Bill currently going through the UK Parliament sets out recommendations for the integration of healthcare systems in NHS England by legislating for every part of England to be covered by an Integrated Care Board (ICB) and Integrated Care Partnership (ICP). Currently, the Bill does not include commitments to deliver on the UK’s climate change and environment goals or a commitment to achieve net zero emissions targets.

The climate crisis is already resulting in negative health impacts as a consequence of extreme weather, polluted air, food and water shortages, forced migration, and the aggravation of disease. We must do all we can to ensure the health and care services that people turn to during ill health, is not one of the major contributing factors to that ill health. By embedding a commitment to net zero in the Health and Care Bill the UK can lead the way in achieving this.