Ride for Their Lives: NHS cyclists join together on epic journey to save lives

5 Oct 2021, 9:21 a.m.

Male cyclist

This October over 30 passionate healthcare workers will cycle from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) in London all the way to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow to coincide with the COP26 climate meeting. (The world map above shows all the locations in which riders have signed up for Ride for Their Lives so far.)

The cyclists include staff from GOSH and Evelina Children's Hospital in London, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Sheffield Children's Hospital, the Great North Children's Hospital in Newcastle, and the Royal Hospital for Children Glasgow.

By joining together on this ride, the cyclists want to galvanise others to act and to establish a network of likeminded individuals who can help find solutions to build a more sustainable NHS.

Climate change, environmental degradation and air pollution pose a real, immediate, and growing threat to human health with significant impacts on children. The World Health Organisation estimates that over 80% of the illnesses, injuries and deaths due to climate change are in children.

GOSH staff explain why they're cycling

Hospital visits en route and 'Pollution Pods'

Along the way the group will stop at children’s hospitals across the UK for events in Birmingham, Sheffield and Newcastle. At each stop the cyclists will be meeting with sustainability teams from the hospitals to hear about the initiatives taking place to make the hospital more sustainable. They will also be joined by an art installation – Pollution Pods – which recreates air quality in different cities around the world to bring to live the magnitude of the crisis.

In a landmark ruling last December, air pollution was named as a cause on a UK death certificate for the first time, in the case of 9-year-old Ella Adoo Kissi-Debra, with the coroner stating that the adverse effects of air pollution on health are not being sufficiently communicated to patients and their carers by medical and nursing professionals. Healthcare providers are repeatedly ranked highly in lists of public trust indexes and have a key role to play in addressing low public awareness of the impact of climate change and declining air quality.

NHS's bold ambition to be first carbon net zero health service

The NHS is already leading healthcare systems globally in managing the climate crisis and has bold plans to be the world’s first carbon net zero health system. But this requires action from everyone within the system. Children’s health organisations have a particular responsibility to respond to the climate crisis in order to fulfil their obligations to improve the health of children.

Many hospitals around the country already have impressive programmes of activity underway to reduce their carbon footprint. Here at GOSH we recently declared a climate emergency and created the world’s first Clean Air Hospital Framework to give practical advice as to how hospitals can create healthier environments. We have also greatly reduced our per person carbon emissions through the construction of energy efficient hospital buildings and have ambitious plans for the next five years.

The cyclists want to use the ride to offer a message of hope and demonstrate that local action from the hundreds of thousands of individuals across the NHS can make a real difference.

Get involved

Already 350 Healthcare workers around the world have joined a virtual ride hosted on Strava (no need pay the free version does all you need) to help reach the ambitious target of one million km cycled. You can join the virtual ride (join the adult healthcare group, paediatric healthcare group or general public group) and cycle 100 km between the 1 and 31 October - wherever you are in the world - in the run up to COP26. You can visit the Pollution pods in London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle and Glasgow.

For more information on Ride For Their Lives go to the Climate Acceptance Studios website.

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