The NHS and wider health system are a source of great national pride. Since 1948, the system has provided free at-the-point-of-use health care services to people across the country at their time of greatest need.

During the pandemic, the NHS and its 1.3 million staff have been a source of inspiration for the country, with healthcare workers operating in the most trying circumstances to deliver urgent care for sick COVID-19 patients and continue to deliver wider care needs such as cancer services and routine operations. We all know that as we move to living with the virus, the NHS faces a monumental patient backlog. In modern times, never has the need to support the NHS been greater.

The challenge that coronavirus has posed on our health system has been greater exacerbated by wider and deep-seated social, economic and health concerns. The pandemic has unfolded alongside a backdrop of a global climate emergency, which in itself is also a health emergency. Unabated, the climate crisis will continue to disrupt care, and affect patients and the public at every stage of our lives.

Given the impact of climate change on the health of the population, we must accelerate efforts to reduce our impact on the environment, to leave the planet in a healthy and prosperous state for future generations. With poor environmental health contributing to major diseases, including cardiac problems, asthma and cancer, the right response is therefore not to duck or defer action on these longer-term challenges even as we continue to respond to immediate pressures. It is right to confront them head on and directly. . .

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