Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust has become the first hospital in the UK to be awarded gold by Cycling UK’s Cycle Friendly Employer Accreditation Scheme.
The accreditation ranks the efforts of employers to make their business more cycle-friendly. The gold award for GOSH recognises the hospital’s work to foster a culture of sustainable travel among its 5,000 employees. This has been especially important during the pandemic, with many employees choosing to cycle rather than take public transport. Staff have collectively ridden more than 30,000 miles in 2020.
Dr Finella Craig, a consultant in the Palliative Care team, has recently returned to cycling and rides an average 120 miles per month to deliver palliative care to her patients. “I have been able to cycle to all my home visits and have even been joined by my registrar on a bike,” she said.
“We saw all our patients on time, spent less time travelling, didn’t have to sit in traffic, got exercise and saved the hospital money. It also means we have avoided public transport and spent a lot more time outdoors.”
Mark Hayden, paediatric cardiac intensivist at GOSH, is passionate about the benefits of making the hospital more cycle-friendly. He said: “We are not caring for children if we do not protect the environment and try to minimise the detrimental impacts that climate change will have on children’s health around the world.
“The physical and mental wellbeing benefits which spring from cycling are well known, but we need to see marked improvements in the local air quality which is a significant public health risk.”
GOSH has ensured that there are nearly 300 secure places to lock bikes at the hospital. Free bike maintenance for staff was provided, as well as towels for staff who shower at work, and a free trial of an e-bike service was also available. The hospital is also engaging with Transport for London and Camden Council to seek better and safer cycling routes. Improved air quality around the hospital will also benefit patients and families.
“Supporting our staff and visitors to make greener transport choices when they come to the hospital is a key part of our three-year Green Plan and wider hospital strategy,” said Nick Martin, head of sustainability at GOSH.
“We’re pleased our efforts have been recognised but know there’s much more we can do to get more staff travelling actively, including cycling. Together we aim to reduce emissions and create a better environment around our hospital and beyond.”
Cycling UK’s cycling friendly employer accreditation manager James Palser added: “Here we have an internationally respected healthcare centre of excellence that wants to see more people cycling those short distances to work. Cycling UK hopes other employers take note and follow in GOSH’s footsteps. More importantly, we hope councils will take this as a sign of support to build more cycle lanes, that they are good for business and public health in general.”
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