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Public health and the NHS are the ‘new front line’ in the climate crisis, Scottish Greens warn

PUBLIC health and the NHS are the “new front line” in the climate crisis, according to the Scottish Greens’ health spokeswoman.

Two firefighters were injured last year as they fought Britain’s largest wildfire on record, at Cannich in the Highlands, which — alongside increased instances of flooding — fuelled the FBU’s call to reverse Scottish Fire and Rescue Service budget cuts.

Green MSP Gillian Mackay has now called for more action to prepare for the public health impact of climate change.

Concerns over the impacts of air pollution on health have been long documented, but last May, the SNP-Green Scottish government’s climate change adaptation programme progress report warned that climate change could mean that heat-related deaths could rise from 35 per year at present to almost 300 by 2050.

Ms Mackay pointed to a recent BBC poll which indicated that 73 per cent of young people felt “climate anxiety,” while the Mental Health Foundation found a quarter of 22- to 44-year-olds suffered similar symptoms.

Calling for action to track the public health impact to direct public investment in counter-measures, Ms Mackay said: “This is the new front line of the climate crisis for Scotland.

“All this information needs to be pulled together to plan the resilience of our health service, but also to ensure we are targeting the correct areas for change. 

“What levels of staffing, what facilities, what kind of equipment is needed where and when?

“Are vehicles suitable, are burns specialists in the right places, do we have adequate ability to transport blood in bad weather? 

“Knowledge is power, and we need to make sure it is available, transparent and put into the right hands.”

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