Climate crisis: Urgent action needed to save hundreds of thousands of lives, says DAUK

The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) has urged the Government to treat the climate crisis with “the same scale of action and urgency” as the pandemic in order to save hundreds of thousands of lives.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warned in its Health Effects of Climate Change report there could be up to 10,000 extra deaths a year by the 2050s, rising to 21,500 in the 2070s, as a result of extreme heat and tropical diseases.

The report highlights that the NHS must be prepared for frequently encountering tropical infectious diseases by the 2060s due to the migration of mosquitos, including Dengue fever and West Nile virus. 

The health of the UK population is also under threat from flooding, food insecurity and dramatic rises in cost of living, alongside a worsening epidemic of mental health conditions, the report warned.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has previously said that many areas of the world may become inhospitable due to the climate crisis and countries such as the UK may experience the pressure of thousands of climate refugees seeking a safer climate.

Dr Matthew Lee, DAUK’s sustainability lead, welcomed the report and called for urgent legislative action from the Government 

Dr Lee said: “The NHS is simply not prepared for such an influx of illness.

“We already have record waiting times and the acute nature of the extreme weather events will eventually cause an annual summer peak of admissions as well as a winter crisis.

“Staff have already reached their limits with burnout and the NHS will not survive the climate crisis if urgent action is not taken now. 

“Many of the changes that individuals can make, such as eating less meat and doing more active travel can have positive health and environmental effects.

“Time, however, is not on our side and we need the current Government and every political party to treat this with the same scale of action and urgency as seen with the COVID-19 pandemic response in order to have a chance of securing a safe and liveable future.”

DAUK is an advocate for the Climate and Ecology Bill which would be a critical piece of legislation that protects nature, our closest ally in the fight against the climate crisis.

DAUK also strongly believes that there should be no new fossil fuel projects, and that all existing fossil fuel projects in the UK should be phased out as soon as feasibly possible.

Read the UKHSA’s Effects of Climate Change report.