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Hospital blamed over 'intolerable' air quality in Sheffield suburb, where pollution is nearly twice the legal limit

Bosses of Northern General Hospital say they are working hard to reduce the number of people coming by car
Bosses of Northern General Hospital say they are working hard to reduce the number of people coming by car
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Air pollution in one corner of Sheffield has soared to nearly twice the legal limit - and campaigners say growing traffic to the city's largest hospital is a major culprit.

Graham Jones, who set up the Burngreave Clean Air Campaign, has been monitoring air quality around Burngreave and Fir Vale, and he is appalled by the results he has been getting.

Graham Jones, who founded the Burngreave Clean Air Campaign

Graham Jones, who founded the Burngreave Clean Air Campaign

At all three spots where he takes monthly readings, the figures are well above the legal limit of 40 micograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre - and the highest count to date is nearly twice that, at 71 µg/m3.

READ MORE: How clean air campaigners aim to cut pollution in Sheffield
What's worse, he says, is how pollution levels have been creeping up steadily since he began logging them last year, with the reading at the junction of Orphanage Road and Barnsley Road having climbed from 47 µg/m3 last September to 66 µg/m3 in March, the latest month for which figures are available.

He believes the volume of traffic pouring into Northern General Hospital is a major contributor and claims bosses at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals should be doing more to promote green travel by staff, patients and visitors.

"Northern General Hospital is a major factor contributing to this intolerable situation. It's getting busier, with more services provided there than ever before, and that means more traffic and more pollution," he said.

READ MORE: Sheffield named among most polluted towns and cities in the UK
"It's deeply disappointing that the hospital's managers aren't doing more to address this. Their solution is always to build more car parks, which might provide a handy source of revenue but also serve to increase traffic through our neighbourhood where we are trying to lead healthy lives and bring up healthy children."

Mr Jones called on NHS bosses to work more closely with bus operators to improve services to the Northern General and maybe even create a mini interchange within the grounds like some other hospitals have.

He added that the walk from existing bus stops is too long, steep and dangerous, especially for those in poor health, and the route can feel unsafe for staff working night shifts.

READ MORE: Sheffield gets record £1.3m to tackle air pollution
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals said it didn't have buses coming on site since that would add to local emissions, with the vehicles getting caught at pinch points, but it did provide a free electric courtesy bus service.

It added that it had consistently supported the possibility of extending the Supertram route and was currently altering its Barnsley Road entrance to make it more pedestrian-friendly for those arriving by bus.

Kevin O'Regan, the NHS trust's hotel services director, said: "We work hard to reduce the level of car emissions by encouraging both patients and staff to consider alternative travel arrangements instead of using cars.

"We are pleased that our staff travel survey last year showed that our single occupancy car usage is lower than it ever has been and sustainable travel options are more popular than ever; and well above the national average.

"One in every five of our staff walk or cycle to work and more staff get public transport than drive to work alone in their car."

He added that incentives offered to staff included free public transport for a trial period for all new employees, support to buy bicycles, and a car share scheme.

NO2 LEVELS IN BURNGREAVE AND FIR VALE

Orphanage Road/Barnsley Road junction: 66 µg/m3

Spital Hill: 71 µg/m3

Owler Lane/Firth Park Road junction: 60 µg/m3

* Figures recorded by Graham Jones, of the Burngreave Clean Air Campaign, in March 2018. The legal limit is 40 µg/m3.