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Published on 23 November 2010 01:30 PM

Fewr people over 65 died in Wales last winter than during the winter of 2008/2009, according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics.

1,500 over 65s died in Wales last winter, compared with 2,230 the previous winter – a 32 per cent drop in so-called ‘excess winter deaths’.

Age Cymru has given the news a mixed response.

The charity’s Health Initiatives Officer, Rhian Pearce says:

“Age Cymru is relieved there was a significant drop in excess winter deaths among over 65s last winter, particularly as it was such a harsh winter.

“However we cannot forget that there were 1,500 excess winter deaths among over 65s in Wales last winter and action is needed to tackle the factors that contributed to these fatalities.

“Fuel poverty is a leading cause of excess winter deaths and is a significant and growing problem in Wales, with an estimated 320,000 households spending more than 10 per cent of their income on energy.

“To combat fuel poverty amongst older people there must be a coordinated programme of action which seeks to increase people’s incomes in retirement, tackle rising energy bills and increase the warmth and energy efficiency of people’s homes.

“With energy bills increasing again this winter and the average household energy bill now exceeding £1,200, the UK and Welsh Assembly Governments must work together to ensure that older people no longer have to make the stark choice between heating and eating during the winter months.”

Age Cymru coordinates the Keep Well this Winter programme and it has five top tips for keeping warm and well during the winter months.

Rhian Pearce says:

“These top tips are some of the best ways to keep your home warm, keep on top of your bills, and keep healthy. Some may seem obvious, but they could help you stay warmer throughout winter.”

For more information: Call Age Cymru Advice: 08000 223 444