Brent second highest for hospital admissions for asthma

Air pollution over London. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA

Air pollution over London. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Environmental campaigners in Brent have called for a plan to tackle severe pollution in the region which is putting asthma sufferers in hospital. 

Brent Green Party coordinator Martin Francis said a change is needed to help make access to clean air “a human right”.

Public Health England has found Brent has the second-highest number of emergency hospital admissions for asthma among over-18s in London. 

Former teacher Mr Francis recalled the return from a school trip to Hampshire, when children with asthma began to ask for their inhalers as they neared home. 

He welcomed Brent Council’s ambitions to promote healthier travel but said this must be done properly and hand-in-hand with addressing poor air quality. 

Mr Francis said: “At the local level there is little use in encouraging cycling, walking and running to help people keep fit and avoid using cars if they take place in polluted areas and result in respiratory problems, particularly for asthma sufferers. 

“That is why healthy streets [schemes] or low traffic neighbourhoods are so important. 

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“However, a rushed scheme, not consulted on and failing to utilise the knowledge of local communities was a public relations disaster. It is imperative that the health benefits are communicated well not just by the council but also by local health agencies.”

As well as having the second-highest rate of emergency adult hospitalisations for asthma, Brent is sixth-highest in London when it comes to children admissions. 

It is split by the North Circular Road, which will become the new boundary for Sadiq Khan’s ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) in October.

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said thousands more people are likely to benefit from the cleaner air brought about by the ULEZ expansion.

She said: “It’s not right that people with asthma should feel like prisoners in their own homes because breathing the air outside could trigger a life-threatening asthma attack or exacerbation.

“The ULEZ is proof that with the right level of ambition, air quality can be rapidly and significantly improved. 

“That’s why we welcome the expansion to make more areas of London safer and inclusive for people living with all types of lung disease, whilst also paving the way for wider clean air action and initiatives right across the capital and in other UK towns and cities.”

Brent Council has been contacted for comment.