East Anglia: New report reveals rise in deaths linked with cold weather

The EADT has relaunched its Surviving Winter campaign to help protect some our most vulnerable resid

The EADT has relaunched its Surviving Winter campaign to help protect some our most vulnerable residents - Credit: Archant

Deaths linked with cold weather have increased by more than a quarter in East Anglia over the past two winters, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics, which published the figures yesterday, show there were 3,300 “excess deaths” in the east of England last winter – up 28% on the 2010/11 figure. The death rate, mainly affecting elderly people, was also 15% higher than in 2011/12.

Age charities have labelled the figures a “damning indictment” of failures to address the “scandal” of cold homes.

“It’s a terrible tragedy that each winter hundreds of older people across East Anglia become victims of the cold weather, facing illness and even death,” said Helen Taylor, information manager at Age UK Suffolk.

The report highlighted last season’s prolonged cold spell, including the coldest March since 1962, as a possible cause for the rise.

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Nationally, 31,000 excess winter deaths were recorded across England and Wales – a 29% increase on the previous winter.

Dan Poulter, Cental Suffolk and North Ipswich MP and junior health minister, said the cold spell and “unusually prolonged influenza season” had increased death rates across the whole of Europe.

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He added: “Our focus now is to make sure that we are as prepared as we can be for the winter.

“There’s an ongoing campaign, which I’ve been involved with, to get older people and those with underlying conditions vaccinated for flu and that’s something that will put us in a better position to deal with it.”

Dr Poulter claimed Ipswich Hospital was “better prepared than ever before” having received its share of a £250million winter support fund.

Health chiefs in Suffolk have added to those assurances with claims that joined-up working would reduce the burden on hospitals by caring for more patients in their homes.

Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health, said the increased death rate was “extremely sad and tragic” but said that by working with NHS partners support would be directed at the most vulnerable members of society.

He highlighted the Warm Homes Health People scheme as a way for people to get help during the winter months.

Call 08456 037686 for more information.

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