Concern as number of ‘excess’ winter deaths increases
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Concerns have been raised over the increase in the number of excess winter deaths across Suffolk and Essex.
Excess winter deaths are described as the difference between the number of deaths in the winter months (December to March) compared with the previous three months (August to November) and the following (April to July).
Data from the Office for National statistics suggests that there were over 500 excess winter deaths in Suffolk alone during 2016/7 with 1,250 in Essex.
Both these figures have almost doubled from 2015/6.
Provisional statistics for the winter of 2017/8 show a further rise in the number of excess winter deaths across the East of England with 5,600 recorded, meaning that figure in Suffolk and Essex are likely to rise again when the numbers are verified.
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Overall in the UK there has been an increase of 45%, the highest since 1975. The figures are not as high as in 2014/5 but were second highest numbers over the last five winter periods according to the report.
Much of the increase in figures is put down to a “predominant strain of flu” during the winter of 2016/7.
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The report also notes a number of other potential causes of excess winter mortality including low temperature in homes.
It also notes that these lower temperatures can cause increased blood pressure in older people.
OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, said it was concerned about the figures.
Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC said: “The latest government statistics reveal the hidden crisis facing Suffolk and it is deeply concerning that even in this day and age.
“Many of us take keeping our houses warm for granted but for a large number of households it is a constant source of anxiety.”
The data comes as the Surviving Winter campaign, run by the Suffolk Community Foundation, has gotten off to its best start in Suffolk ever with tens of thousands of pounds having been raised so far.
The campaign helps vulnerable people with the cost of heating their homes over winter and asks people to donate their winter fuel payment, if they can afford to, or give money to the appeal.
Surviving Winter was given a boost earlier this year when Hopkins Homes pledged that they would be match funding £30,000.
How to donate to Surviving Winter
There are a number of ways to donate.
Donate online at www.suffolkcf.org.uk or call Suffolk Community Foundation on 01473 602602.
You can donate by cheque using the coupon printed in this newspaper, or in person at any branch of Ipswich Building Society
To receive help, simply visit any branch of Citizen’s Advice in Suffolk or call 01473 298634.
By pledging your Winter Fuel Payment, or alternatively simply making a donation, you can save lives and help vulnerable older people in Suffolk.
This year, Suffolk Community Foundation has partnered with local charities and businesses to deliver this appeal, including Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK Suffolk, The Rural Coffee Caravan and Meet Up Mondays, Warm Homes Healthy People, EADT, East of England Co-operative, Hopkins Homes, Ipswich Building Society and Ipswich Town Football Club.