A record number of deaths related to the cold in the UK are classified as 'AVOIDABLE'

Posted on Feb 25 2018 - 8:48pm by admin

Examples of avoidable deaths include infections such as pneumonia taking hold because the immune system is slower due to low temperatures and heart attacks and strokes which can also be triggered by cold conditions. 

The government figures compiled for the Sunday Express by Intelligent Health, a company which alerts hospitals to weather conditions that cause a spike in admissions, come as the country faces the coldest week in March for 150 years with heavy snow and severe frost forecast this week. 

The data reveals there have already been 33,464 avoidable deaths this winter (December 1 to mid-February). 

By the end of March it is predicted this will rise to over 45,000 – the highest for 18 years. 

The figures have led to calls from health experts for the Government urgently to reduce fuel poverty and improve its housing stock so people can afford to stay warm. 

The plummeting temperatures are also set to put more strain on already overstretched hospitals. 

Dr William Bird, a former clinical director of health forecasting at the Met Office, said: “This is a cold hazard that kills thousands of people each year, but because not all the deaths occur at the same time it is often overlooked. 

“If they did, there would be a public outcry, but this is happening year after year, and all over the country creating a huge burden on the NHS.” 

Professor James Goodwin for Age UK said: “We have known about avoidable deaths for decades and every time it gets cold we have thousands more. 

“It is likely the number of deaths from the forthcoming cold spell will lead to a scandalously higher number of deaths compared to other European countries.” 

The data reveals Britain has the most avoidable deaths in northern Europe with almost 16 per cent of its annual deaths classified as avoidable. 

Next is Belgium on 15.7 per cent, followed by Austria 13.2 per cent, and the Netherlands on 12.3 per cent. 

At the bottom are traditionally colder countries including Slovakia, Iceland and Finland. Dr Bird said: “There is much talk about the NHS crumbling, but in fact much of the pressure due to the huge rises in admissions are because of avoidable illness and death due to cold and flu.” 

A recent report by housing charity Shelter found 48 per cent of families in social housing who reported issues around poor or unsafe conditions were ignored or refused help. 

The news comes as it was warned parts of Britain could be colder than the North Pole today with temperatures dropping to -8C (17.6F) and four inches of snow expected to fall this week. 

There are fears the cold weather may last for another month.

The Met Office has issued warnings for snow tomorrow and Tuesday. 

Some rural communities could become cut off and there is a risk of delays to road, rail and air travel. 

“It’s expected to stay cold all week,” said Met Office meteorologist Martin Bowles. 

“Spring will come eventually but it will be postponed.” Snow is due to hit South-east England tomorrow. 

The Met Office warning covers Kent, East Sussex, parts of London, East Anglia and the south Midlands, from tomorrow afternoon through to Tuesday.

It will spread north to all areas east of the Pennines up into Scotland, as well as the south-east of England, through Tuesday. 

More snow is expected next week.  

www.intelligenthealth.co.uk

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