Thousands could die from cold weather

COLD weather could claim the lives of more than 2,500 people in England and Wales this week.And 268 of those will live in the eastern region. The shocking figures from the Faculty of Public Health and Met Office comes amid renewed concern over the plight of the poor and vulnerable during cold snaps.

COLD weather could claim the lives of more than 2,500 people in England and Wales this week.

And 268 of those will live in the eastern region.

The shocking figures from the Faculty of Public Health and Met Office comes amid renewed concern over the plight of the poor and vulnerable during cold snaps.

Based on post codes, the forecasts allow hospitals to prepare for extra workload.


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A spokeswoman for Ipswich hospital said: "The cold can be a killer, especially for vulnerable people.

"We have plans in place for every eventuality from a major disaster to a cold snap, but its more about prevention during the year.

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"The work goes on all year round. Everybody in the NHS works very hard to try to give people the very best advice about keeping warm in winter."

It is expected that the plummeting temperatures over the weekend will lead to an increase in cardiovascular and respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema, raised blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes– a large percentage of which could have been avoided by people keeping warm.

But lack of preparation, and lack of money in many cases, mean that every winter in Britain more people die because of unseasonable cold weather than in either Finland or Russia.

An estimated 40,000 more people die between December and March in the UK than would be expected from death rates during other times of the year.

Experts have criticised the Government's "uncoordinated" approach to dealing with the problem.

Professor Sian Griffiths, president of the Faculty of Public Health, which sets and maintains professional standards in public health, said: "A high proportion of preventable illness and deaths in the UK are caused by people living in damp and cold housing.

"If we see much more of the cold weather of recent days, it is likely that as many as 50,000 people will die unnecessarily over this winter. This is a tragedy in terms of human life and also creates a huge - and preventable - strain on the NHS.

"The UK remains one of the worst countries in the world at coping with unseasonable low temperatures. Although the Government has shown commitment to tackling the problem, it has not given sufficient priority to such an important public health issue and its approach remains far too uncoordinated."

Although the cold snap is now over and temperatures are again on the up, people are being urged to look out for their families, friends and neighbours as fatal illnesses often develop several days after a cold snap has finished.

Separate panel: The South East is expected to top the estimated cold weather death toll between December 15 and 22, followed by the North West.

The full regional breakdown is as follows: South East, 410; North West, 320; London, 302; West Midlands, 272; East, 268; Yorkshire and Humberside, 252; South West, 245; East Midlands, 198; Wales, 148; North East, 145.

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