NHS organisations and local authorities are being urged to consider taking on electric or hybrid vehicles to improve air quality in new draft quality standard guidance.
In ‘Air Pollution: outdoor air quality and health’, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) says air pollution can be cut if public sector organisations consider replacing high-polluting vehicles with low-emissions ones at the end of their working lives.
The organisation is also recommending local authorities and NHS organisations ensure suppliers identify how they will reduce emissions from their vehicle fleets.
Other recommendations in the document highlight that training drivers in techniques such as smooth acceleration and braking, not over-revving the engine, efficient gear changing, no idling when parked or making a delivery and ensuring tyres are inflated to the correct level can help to improve fuel efficiency and cut emissions.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “The public sector has a key role to play in reducing the emissions from its vehicle fleet.
“Promoting an efficient driving style can not only reduce the amount of air pollutants from vehicles, but also save money through reduced fuel consumption.
“Organisations should make low vehicle emissions one of the key criteria when making routine procurement decisions. This could include selecting low-emission vehicles, including electric vehicles.
“Lowering road-traffic-related air pollution will help reduce the significant financial costs currently incurred by the NHS through treating related illnesses.”
It has been estimated in a study by Oxford University and the University of Bath that total air pollution from cars and vans costs the UK £5.9 billion a year to health.
Almost £1 billion of this cost can be attributed to treatment costs from hospital admissions and treatment of related illnesses.
A consultation has opened on these draft guidelines and it will close on October 9, 2018.