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NHS must prepare for health impact of global warming, say experts

Published on 04/05/07 at 01:46pm

The British public and the NHS need to adapt to climate change and the new risks to health it will pose, experts have warned.

A new, government-sponsored report on the Health Effects of Climate Change says potentially lethal heatwaves, such as the one seen in 2003 will be more common, while the risk of skin cancers from exposure to sun will also increase.

One positive effect, however, will be a fall in deaths due to cold weather in winter months.

Environment Minister Ian Pearson said: "This report underlines the potential impact of climate change on human health.

"Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delivered a report which showed that there would be a major threat to health around the globe.

"And it's not a threat that's exclusive to the developing world. The European heat wave of 2003 shows that developed countries are also vulnerable to climate change. We need to take this threat seriously and start to adapt now to safeguard our future health."

The UK's lead on combating climate change means that the NHS will soon have another set of new targets  this time focused on reducing its carbon footprint.

Mandatory targets for energy efficiency for the NHS are now being decided, and the government has set up a £100m Energy and Sustainability Capital Fund to help the health service to meet the target of 15% or 0.15 million tonnes carbon efficiency saving between 2000 and 2010.

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