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NHS doctors call for more active travel measures to help 'society's most deprived'

"Many of our patients do not have the financial means, health status, or abilities to access private car transport".....

A group of senior Edinburgh based NHS staff have called upon the government to improve active travel measures to benefit society's most deprived and combat the climate emergency. 

In an open letter addressed to the City Council, the group said that as healthcare professionals they  'have a responsibility to speak up for disadvantaged groups who are disproportionately vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the climate crisis.'

They added: "Deprivation is strongly associated with poor health outcomes. Premature death remains four times higher in the most deprived areas of Scotland compared with the least deprived areas."

The letter highlighted that In NHS Lothian, the most deprived areas have 67 per cent more deaths than the overall average.

Those living in areas of deprivation are also less likely to drive but much more likely to be injured in a road traffic collision.

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The letter continued: "Many of our patients do not have the financial means, health status, or abilities to access private car transport.

"Children, the frail elderly, and people with chronic illnesses or disabilities are disadvantaged in opportunities to access services and community by systems which prioritise private car transport.

"Moves to promote safe active travel, including widening of pavements and provision of segregated paths, make the urban environment more accessible for people with disabilities and release road space for reliable and efficient public transport.

"Measures to improve the urban environment and promote active travel in Edinburgh will differentially benefit the most disadvantaged members of our community and so help to reduce health inequalities in Edinburgh."

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The group drew attention to the effect air pollution had on health and warned of the 'concerning' levels in some parts of Edinburgh.

They concluded by imploring the government to look closely at the increased physical activity levels that result from better segregated infrastructure. 

"Local government in Edinburgh has the potential to lead a bold and exemplary modal shift away from car-dependence which will benefit and protect the health of the people of Edinburgh."

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