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29 February 2024
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London Air Quality Alert System Introduced for Health Professionals

The London Air Quality and Health Programme Office has collaborated with a wide range of partners across London’s healthcare system and the Mayor of London to develop the UK’s first targeted air pollution alert system for health professionals in London.

The London Air Quality alert system will provide timely alerts to all GPs and Emergency Departments in the city approximately 24 hours before high air pollution episodes are forecasted.

This alert system is triggered by forecasts from Imperial College London and provides clear guidance for conducting person-centred conversations with patients, preparing for future high air pollution episodes, and offering advice on reducing exposure to and contribution to air pollution.

Long-term exposure to air pollution, spanning years or lifetimes, and short-term exposure to heightened levels, pose health hazards. Such short-term exposure can trigger exacerbations of asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), conditions accounting for a substantial portion of hospital admissions in London.

Dr Chris Streather, Medical Director and Chief Clinical Information Officer, NHS England London, said: ‘This new alert system is important step towards educating and protecting our patients against the negative effects of air pollution. By delivering targeted air quality alerts to London’s healthcare professionals, we are empowering our frontline NHS staff to provide informed care and support for our communities’ wellbeing.’

Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director of Public Health explains that they would like healthcare professionals to consider the content of the alert and how they could incorporate this guidance and advice into your practice.

He said: ‘It’s important to acknowledge that exposure to poor air quality is often linked to living in some of the more deprived parts of London, where housing is frequently located along busy roads with poorer air quality, exacerbating health inequalities.

‘Healthcare professionals diagnose and treat the consequences of poor air quality daily – by integrating air quality awareness into their regular practice and into patient-centred conversations, they can support patients to adopt healthier lifestyles, mitigate their exposure to air pollution and, importantly, advocate for cleaner air.’

The London Air Quality and Health Programme Office was set up following The Mayor of London’s Clean Air and Health Summit in February 2022 and is responsible for co-ordinating and tracking the commitments made at it.

One of its primary responsibilities is to ensure that poor air quality is ‘recognised and prioritised as a determinant of poor health outcomes and a key driver of health inequalities in London’.

Source: GLA press release

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