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NHS is more interested in the climate bogeyman than the real enemy


WHEN the dust has finally settled, all countries will have to take a hard look at how the coronavirus has been tackled.

At home, one target will inevitably be Public Health England, set up in 2013 to replace another quango. As Dan Hannan pointed out in the Telegraph:

‘So much for the idea that reforming the quango state was a side issue or distraction. In a crisis, the inertia of our executive agencies can become lethal. Consider Public Health England (PHE). In theory, that vast bureaucracy exists for precisely such an emergency as the present one. It has more than 200 executives on six-figure salaries, some of them earning more than the Prime Minister. For years, its busybody officials have hectored us about pizza and fizzy drinks. Yet the moment a real public health threat comes along, they prove useless.’

In fact this bureaucratic inertia is arguably worse then he suggests. All the way across our medical establishment, time and money has been wasted fighting climate change instead of the real enemy out there.

We can maybe start with PHE’s predecessor, the Health Protection Agency, which published a 242-page report, Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2012. It was full of the usual scare stories about extreme weather, new diseases, air pollution and the rest, all based on a nonsensical 5C warming by 2080. It did admit that more people die from cold, and that in a warmer climate more lives would be saved than lost.

Needless to say, PHE accepted the report lock, stock and barrel, which still stands as its official policy.

The NHS itself has, of course, been obsessed with climate change for a long time. Back in 2009, for instance, it wholeheartedly endorsed a Lancet report, ‘Managing the health effects of climate change’, which talked about food shortages, heatwaves and increased threat of tropical diseases such as malaria.

Subsequent similar Lancet reports on climate change have been highly politicised, largely based on questionable assumptions, omission of inconvenient facts and outright errors.

The NHS and PHE jointly fund something called the Sustainable Development Unit (SDU). Its vision is:

‘A sustainable health and care system that works within the available environmental and social resources protecting and improving health now and for future generations. This means working to reduce carbon emissions, minimising waste and pollution, making the best use of scarce resources, building resilience to a changing climate and nurturing community strengths and assets.’
Well, it would, wouldn’t it!

In 2009, the SDU announced a Carbon Reduction Strategy for the NHS:

‘The NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy for England (CRS) sets an ambition for the NHS to help drive change towards a low carbon society. The strategy shows the scale of reduction in carbon required for the NHS to meet its legal targets set out in the Climate Change Act. It also recommends key actions for the NHS to become a leading sustainable and low carbon organisation.

‘Keeping track of the NHS carbon footprint indicates how the NHS is progressing in reducing emissions. The SDU regularly updates the NHS carbon footprint to see how we are doing. A list of documents demonstrating progress and giving guidance on how to improve sustainability and reduce carbon can be found on our NHS Carbon Footprint page.’

The strategy has since been updated, and the NHS are currently working to the SDU’s 2014-20 Plan:

‘The Sustainable Development Strategy for the Health, Public Health and Social Care System 2014-2020 (gateway No 01011) was launched in January 2014. It describes the vision for a sustainable health and care system by reducing carbon emissions, protecting natural resources, preparing communities for extreme weather events and promoting healthy lifestyles and environments.’

It is not only the bureaucrats who have a warped sense of priorities. The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change was formed in 2016, bringing together doctors, nurses and other health professionals to advocate for responses to climate change that protect and promote public health. According to them:

‘The climate emergency is a health emergency, and through the #GreenerNHS campaign NHS England acknowledges this.

The NHS, which currently accounts for around 5 per cent of total UK carbon emissions, has committed to achieving ‘net-zero’ as soon as possible. This year a target date will be announced, alongside a plan for how to get there. To support this world-leading commitment to ending the health sector’s contribution to climate change, a “call for evidence” has been launched.’

The doctors’ trade union, the BMA, is a founding member of the Alliance. It still absurdly claims that climate change poses ‘significant threats to public health’, and continues to use its lobbying power to pressurise the NHS into carbon reductions. Inevitably this results in huge amounts of money being wasted.

The World Health Organisation has many questions to answer about its role in covering up the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in China. But according to the WHO: ‘Climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.’

Naturally, like all bureaucracy-heavy organisations, it has a STRATEGY!

We must also not forget that higher energy prices imposed by the Climate Change Act cost the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds every year, money which could be used for medical purposes.

Talking of the NHS: it may seem incredible today, but on January 25 this year, when Covid-19 was spreading around the world, the NHS chief was announcing plans to ‘step up action to tackle the climate health emergency’.

You really could not make it up!

Perhaps instead of wasting money fighting imaginary bogeymen, the medical establishment might have concentrated on today’s very real enemies.

This article first appeared in Not a Lot of People Know That on April 13, 2020, and is republished by kind permission. 

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Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood is a former accountant who blogs about climate change at Not a Lot of People Know That

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