The Office for National Statistics has reported 1,800 winter deaths amongst the over 65s in Wales for 2016/17, which Age Cymru says is far too many given that these deaths are largely preventable.
Age Cymru’s deputy chief executive Victoria Lloyd said: “While any excess winter deaths are regrettable, it is hugely frustrating that nearly 2,000 older people in Wales are dying in winter from largely preventable diseases. For example, many of the respiratory diseases can be cured by enabling people to live in warm, insulated homes that are free from damp and drafty conditions. While more effective financial support and advice would help more older people to heat their homes during winter.”
The charity says it is scant consolation that Wales is performing better than the English regions in terms of winter death rates. (Wales’ Excess Winter Mortality index rate was calculated as 17.6% whereas the figure for England and Wales was 20.9%)
One third of the deaths were caused by respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, flu, asthma, and chest infections, while other causes are related to circulatory diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.
The charity was also concerned by the wide variation in mortality rates within Wales. Conwy recorded the highest EWM index in Wales with 28.3%, while Powys recorded the lowest with 6.5%.
Victoria Lloyd added: “Health and social services in Wales need to work together to ensure older people have access to community hubs where they can get the information and support needed to maintain their health and well-being.”
“We would also urge older people to do what they can to remain healthy during the winter, particularly in opting to have a flu jab which is free to everyone aged 65 and over. If anyone needs advice and support about staying healthy in winter can call our free advice line on 08000 223 444.”
Notes to editors
NB* The figures for the so called Excess Winter Deaths (EWD) are similar to last year (1,790) but significantly less than the 2,580 reported in 2014/15. The report says that the elderly were amongst those most affected by excess winter mortality during last winter (2016 to 2017).
1. Age Cymru is the national charity for older people in Wales.
2. We are the force combining Age Concern Cymru and Help the Aged in Wales.
3. We work with local Age Cymru Partners across Wales to improve life for older people.
4. Age Cymru is a registered charity 1128436.
5. Company limited by guarantee and registered by in England and Wales 6837284.
6. Registered office address: 13/14 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff, CF24 5PJ.
7. Age Cymru is funded by donations from the public, corporate partners, our trading enterprises and the Welsh Government.