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10.5 million hospital patients at risk from toxic fumes

10.5 million hospital patients at risk from toxic fumes

UK100, a network of local leaders that campaigns on clean air and climate change are today releasing new analysis that shows the major risk to public health from air pollution.

It shows that 1 in 4 hospitals in England and nearly 1 in 5 across the UK are located in areas that exceed safe levels of PM2.5 air pollution as determined by the World Health Organisation. Across the UK, 248 hospitals (17%) exceed safe levels.

 UK100 has estimated that around 10.5 million patients could be visiting a hospital with dangerous pollution levels. The pollution, which is known as particulates or PM2.5 – is based on tiny particles which can be absorbed not just by people’s lungs but also get embedded in their bloodstream and organs, contributing to diseases such as lung cancer, strokes, diabetes and dementia.

London is the worst affected with 72% of hospitals in the capital affected, with 95 hospitals breaching guidelines, while 36% of hospitals in the East Midlands are above limits, and nearly a third (32.5%) in the East of England. The data was originally commissioned by the British Lung Foundation.

Polly Billington, Director of the UK100 network, said:  “We urgently need to reduce emissions caused by transport and industrial fumes. Local authorities, the NHS and businesses can work together to reduce non-emergency car journeys and the emissions caused by deliveries to hospitals. But we urgently need new laws and funding from government to tackle this health crisis including Clean Air Zones around city hospitals.”

The data shows that each of the 484 NHS trusts in England treat on average 42,438 patients a year. Although hospital-level patient data is not published by the NHS, which extrapolated means an estimated 10,524,708 patients could be at risk when visiting the 248 hospitals across the UK which exceed pollution levels.

Large cities such as Birmingham, Leeds, Leicester, London, Nottingham, Hull, Chelmsford and Southampton have at least one large NHS trust that is located in an area with unsafe levels of pollution. In addition, smaller towns such as Ipswich, Westcliff-on-Sea, Gillingham, Worthing, Kettering, Basingstoke and Colchester, are also exceeding limits.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “Air pollution causes thousands of avoidable hospital admissions and early deaths every year, and affects more than 2,000 GP surgeries and hospitals. That is why the NHS is committed to playing our part – cutting emissions from the NHS fleet by 20% by 2024, cutting our reliance on fossil fuels for power, and reforming services to reduce the number of visits that people need to make to hospital. But although the NHS can take practical steps to reduce our impact on the environment, as well as treating those suffering the consequences of poor air, we can’t win this fight alone, so the growing consensus on the need for wider action across society is welcome.”

Two of the biggest children’s hospitals in the country, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Birmingham’s Children Hospital, are located in areas with unsafe levels of pollution. Great Ormond Street Hospital have created a Clean Air Hospital Framework and worked with Global Action Plan and Camden Council as part of the Camden Clean Air Partnership. UK100 want to see other local authorities and hospital trusts to replicate these partnership action plans.

Air pollution is the cause and aggravating factor of many respiratory and coronary conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer, as well as being linked to a number of conditions from depression to diabetes, contributing to around 36,000 deaths a year.

 Current NHS figures show that 2 million people in the UK have diagnosed COPD, and over 1 million bed days per year are taken up by COPD patients. While smoking is also a contributory factor for COPD, according to the NHS, “non-smoking causes of COPD are becoming more evident. The epidemiological evidence suggests that future emergency admissions to hospital will rise”.

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Air pollution may be invisible, but the potentially deadly consequences are very real: it can cause lung cancer, stunt children’s lung growth and makes it even harder to breathe for people with existing lung disease. It’s unacceptable that vulnerable people with NHS appointments are being exposed to toxic air that could make their health worse, and health care professionals have no choice but to breathe air pollution at work. The government must act now, for the sake of all our health.”

 Earlier in the year, UK100 brought together political leaders representing 20 million people to agree new ambitions for cleaning up our air. Leaders included the Chief Executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens and the Health and Environment Secretaries Matt Hancock and Michael Gove along with the mayors of London and Manchester Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham.

The summit agreed to prioritise:

  • adopting World Health Organisation recommended air pollution limits as legally binding targets

  • creating an independent clean air watchdog to hold the Government to account,

  • granting Local Authorities the powers and resources, to deliver zero emission transport networks

  • enabling the setting and enforcement of ambitious standards for local air quality,

  • establishing adequately resourced local powers to set and enforce emission zones for  Non-Road Mobile Machinery

  • co-ordinated action from private and public bodies to improve air quality including the NHS and Highways England


The original research, which is based on predicted 2018 levels, measures patients that attend hospitals located in areas with levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) above the World Health Organisation’s limit (10μg/m3 for the annual average)).

Current legal limits for PM2.5 are twice as high as what the WHO recommends, and it is urgent to adopt and meet WHO’s limit as soon as possible to protect and promote the public’s health.


Regional Breakdowns



Total Hospitals

Hospitals exceeding PM2.5 WHO guidelines

Hospitals exceeding PM2.5 WHO guidelines (%)





East of England




East Midlands




South East




West Midlands




Yorkshire & Humber




South West




North West












North East




Grand Total





Top 10 hospitals located in areas with the highest levels of PM2.5 pollution:


Hospital Name



PM2.5 Level (annual)

Lowestoft Hospital

Tennyson Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk

NR32 1PT


The Heart Hospital

The Heart Hospital, 16-18 Westmoreland Street, London



Western Eye Hospital

153-173 Marylebone Road, London, Greater London



The Royal London Hospital For Integrated Medicine

60 Great Ormond Street, London



Northgate Hospital

Northgate Street, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

NR30 1BU


The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place, London



Bmi Southend Private Hospital

15-17 Fairfax Drive, Westcliff On Sea, Essex



Mount Gould Local Care Centre

200 Mount Gould Road, Mount Gould, Plymouth, Devon



Great Ormond Street Hospital

Great Ormond Street, London, Greater London



National Hospital For Neurology And Neurosurgery

Queen Square, London



Financing Energy in the Greater South East

UK100, BEIS and the Greater South East Energy hub partnered to host the ‘Financing Energy in the Greater South East’ workshop on June 18th. The event was held in Cambridge and was the first in a series of regional workshops aimed at encouraging investment in local energy across the U.K.

The workshop was sponsored by SSE and Walker Morris.

If you are interested in sponsoring one of the upcoming workshops in either the Midlands, South West, North West or North East please contact

Prior to the workshop UK100 compiled a survey to analyse the current state of the pipeline in the Greater South East. The survey results can be viewed in full below:

UK100 GSE Investing in Local Energy Survey.

The leader of Cambridge City Council, Cllr Lewis Herbert, opened the workshop and stated the council’s desire to work locally to implement the Cambridge Climate Strategy: 2016- 2021, with an aim of being carbon neutral by 2030.

The first panel focused on developing investable projects and exploring the experiences of local authorities that have developed successful low carbon energy projects.

The panel was comprised of:

Chair: Victoria Bradley, Director, Energy, Infrastructure & Government, Walker Morris LLP


Victoria Fletcher, Environment and Heritage Manager, Oxfordshire County Council
Delivering the Energy Strategy

Sheryl French, Project Director, Mobilising Local Energy Investment, Cambridgeshire County Council
Managing Investment Risk

Daire Casey, Business Development Manager, West Sussex County Council
First Steps in Investing in Energy Assets

Jennifer Belk, Commercial Project Development Manager, SSE Enterprise
Private Sector Perspective


The second panel centered on sourcing private finance and building understanding of the different types of private finance models available and bridging this with the needs of public sector low carbon projects.

The panellists for the second session were:

Chair: George Robinson, Investment and Finance, Heat Networks Delivery Unit, BEIS


Daniel Carrico, Head of Origination, Allia


Peter Hobson, Director EMEA, Sustainable Development Capital
– SDCL Energy Efficiency Investments

Claire Hanratty, Chief Executive, Leapfrog
Bridge Finance and Council Projects

Charlotte Eddington, Investments Director, Abundance


The upcoming workshops are invitation only and if you are interested in attending one in either the Midlands, South West, North West or North East please contact