THE four organisations that fund NHS services in Cheshire are vowing to make tackling climate change a top priority as they merge into one body.

Cheshire’s four NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are set to become one Cheshire CCG from April 1.

And at Thursday’s governing body meeting, representatives from the CCGs declared a climate emergency, promising to keep carbon firmly in mind as they begin buying healthcare services for the whole county later this year.

Bernadette Bailey, transformation manager for NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG, said: “It has to be said, I think the NHS overall has not taken a great deal of action so far.

“We have a specific opportunity – and it is right now as we are creating a Cheshire CCG.

“We have a great responsibility for that number of people living in Cheshire and to use our commissioning resources responsibly.”

A report presented at the meeting said that cutting carbon emissions is a requirement for the NHS set out by its long-term plan and would benefit public health – with improved air quality.

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The new Cheshire CCG will be responsible for a population of 742,000 people currently served by the Eastern Cheshire, South Cheshire, Vale Royal and West Cheshire CCGs.

By declaring a climate emergency, the CCG will make cutting carbon emissions a priority when it agrees new contracts with NHS providers for the county’s services.

It will also look to influence public behaviour, while ‘leading by example’ at its own offices.

Tracey Cole, director of strategy and partnerships for the four CCGs, said: “This is the start of a long and continued journey.

“We’ve got already a large number of staff who are very interested in taking this forward, and I think we will be harnessing the power of the people to help champion that.”

The CCG will now appoint two ‘climate change champions’ to drive its plans for cutting carbon and develop an urgent action plan to improve the NHS’ carbon footprint in Cheshire.

Clare Watson, accountable officer for Cheshire’s CCGs, added: “I think this is a really good example of where the Cheshire CCG is going to be different from four small CCGs and how we play a greater role in wider agendas.

Winsford Guardian:

“It’s great to talk about putting it in contracts and looking at the population, but we have to walk the walk.

“We need to absolutely live and breathe this, otherwise there won’t be any clean air for us to breathe.”

Thursday’s meeting was the first to include members from all the governing bodies of all four existing CCGs.

Members also endorsed the constitution for the new CCG and made appointments to its new governing body ahead of the April launch.