Paul Brown wrote an article in The Guardian that there continues to be many deaths when there is cold weather in Britain. Surely, after so many years of addressing this, we know how to solve it and, more importantly, we are addressing it effectively. Brown mentions that last winter there were 50,100 excess deaths in England and Wales alone, not including Scotland or Northern Ireland. These are unbelievable numbers. When will policymakers wake up and deal with this with urgency?
Why cold weather is still a killer in the UK
In an affluent, educated country like the UK it is surprising that there is still a large spike in the number of people who die in cold weather because they cannot afford to heat their homes or do not understand the danger they are in.
Last winter there were 50,100 excess deaths in England and Wales, many of which were entirely preventable. Most of those who die unnecessarily are older adults who have not kept themselves warm enough.
People living on low pensions faced with ever-higher fuel bills were at greatest risk. These people are often tenants rather than homeowners who live in badly insulated properties and cannot afford their heating bills.
Added to that there is a widespread lack of knowledge about how being cold can affect your heart, lungs and circulation. This risk is greater for older people who do not move about much.
Apart from educating people and tackling fuel poverty, research found that it was the local community that could do most to halt this loss of life. Those at risk did not take much notice of leaflets but listened to advice from personal contact.
Of most help were local doctors, nurses and people in the neighbourhood who took an interest in the welfare of those at risk.