Working as an NHS doctor can often feel like an uphill battle. Bottlenecks in the emergency department, constant staff shortages, and lack of funding are among the challenges the health service is up against. All our attention is focused on delivering the best possible care to the patients in front of us.

The traditional NHS winter crises are now matched by summer crises. Trends show that during heatwaves A&E admissions go up with an increasing number of respiratory and cardiovascular deaths amongst the elderly. Extreme heat also raises pollen and aeroallergen levels, triggering asthma which affects around 5.4 million people in the UK.

Today at work, the emergency department waiting room is packed, and the corridor is crammed with trolleys holding unwell patients because there are no spare beds. I find myself wondering whether we will remember 2019 as the good old days when everything was under control.

As things stand, the Government is failing to respond to the crisis, and is placing the health of its citizens at risk ’

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure’ is a proverb familiar to all doctors. We should start applying this principle to planetary health. As things stand, the government is failing to respond to the crisis, and is placing the health of its citizens at risk.

There is still hope – reversing climate change needs an astronomical international effort, but has the potential to be the greatest health accomplishment of the 21st century. The responsibility lies with all of us to do what we can. We owe it to our patients, our communities, and the planet.


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