Health professionals work unceasingly to care for the sick, as we have particularly appreciated over the past two years through Covid-19. Dr Mark Hayden’s day job is in the paediatric cardiac unit of Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. But, as well as handling cardiac arrests, he also cares about the long-term future of both the children whom he looks after and the medical staff alongside him.
“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.” says Dr Hayden, the winner of LCC’s top external award at our 2021 AGM.
Mark champions action to address climate change, riding to COP26 in Glasgow with fellow health workers, and he has spoken out on the harm caused by poor air quality and the urgent need to reduce road danger to cycle users and pedestrians.
In presenting the Active Travel Campaigner award to Dr Hayden, London Cycling Campaign said:
“Dr Mark Hayden is one of the health sector’s most vocal and visible campaigners, urging the sector to be clearer and louder on the impacts of car use and active travel on our collective health, and on health workers. He spoke at the recent protest following the death of Dr Krawiec while cycling at Holborn, he urged trusts and colleagues to back LCC’s campaign on dangerous junctions, and he’s now leading a group of doctors and healthcare professionals cycling to COP26 in Glasgow.”
On receiving the award, Mark responded:
“My job isn’t just to deal with what is in front of my eyes at work. I didn’t do paediatrics to be that blinkered. My job is to do everything in my power to protect the planet for my patients.”
“I’d like to give hope, you don’t need to despair, there are other people out there that feel the same and want to do something.”
-Dr Mark Hayden, Consultant Intensivist.
— Ride for their Lives (@_RFTL) November 7, 2022
When fellow children’s doctor, Dr Marta Krawiec was killed at Holborn gyratory in August, she was one of a growing list of medical professionals to be killed while cycling to or home from work.
In particular during the Covid-19 pandemic, many hospital doctors and other NHS staff started cycling to work in order to avoid public transport and so reduce the risk of catching Covid-19 and passing it on to their patients.
After the year that the medical profession had been through, the loss of a colleague in these terrible, unjust and avoidable circumstances triggered a massive response amongst healthcare professionals, a group who have been gradually getting louder in advocating for active travel in London.
Many in the NHS, in healthcare trusts and among medical professionals are raising their concerns about the climate crisis, about pollution, road danger, and inactivity. In this, LCC shares an agenda and approach with these vital keyworkers, and we’re in dialogue with these institutions – and increasingly helping them promote active travel and support community projects and cycle infrastructure.
This step-change in how the NHS in London engages with cycling is in no small part thanks to Dr Mark Hayden.
CLIMATE SAFE STREETS
What’s the biggest thing London can do to tackle both public health and the climate emergency? Help people drive less and cycle, walk and wheel more. Many healthcare professionals are campaigning with us to demand safe cycling for all.
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