NHS north London: climate change warning after floods

It comes as health professionals warned that flooding could become a “major public health problem” as climate change is likely to cause further waterborne damage to NHS infrastructure.

According to analysis by the non-profit organization Round Our Way, the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust had the third highest amount of flooding of any NHS Trust in England during this time.

Sites managed by the trust were flooded a total of 14 times.

NHS data revealed that the other North London trusts to report at least one flood in 2021-22 were:

  • North West London (Brent and Harrow)
  • Moorfields Eye Hospital
  • Homerton University Hospital (Hackney)
  • Camden and Islington
  • Whittington Health (Islington and Haringey)

In 2021, London was affected by two extreme storms. In July 2021, a month’s worth of rain fell on the capital in just three hours, flooding 31 metro stations and 2,000 properties.

The Round Our Way report states that: “Surface water flooding has been shown to pose the greatest risk to health and social care assets.

“This is where surface water that accumulates as a result of heavy rainfall overwhelms drainage systems and, as a result, the excess water cannot be absorbed.”

In total, there were 176 flooding incidents at NHS sites in England between April 2021 and March 2022.

Professor Maggie Rae, Chair of the Royal Society of Medicine Section of Epidemiology and Public Health, said: “Floods have the potential to become a major public health problem.

“In addition to the direct risks to life and health, this report is a timely reminder that flooding can destroy the infrastructure we depend on to access and provide medical care, such as hospitals, roads, and communications.

“We must also not forget the great effect that flooding can have on people’s mental health.

“It is recognized that the NHS is already overburdened to deal with the burden of disease in our country.

“We need to make sure that the floods do not cause major incidents that will inevitably affect people’s health and health services.”

Alexis Percival, manager of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “I’m really worried if we don’t tackle climate change, today’s near misses could become tomorrow’s major disruptions to our NHS.”


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