Highest excess winter deaths this century
Published on 25 November 2015 11:30 AM
Numbers of older people dying over winter highest this century with cold, poorly insulated homes the root cause
New figures released by the ONS today show that over the winter of 2014/15 there were a staggering 40,800 excess winter deaths among the over 65s from cold-related illness such as heart attacks and strokes.
The majority of deaths occurred among people aged 75 and over; there were an estimated 36,300 excess winter deaths in this age group in 2014/15, compared with 7,700 in people aged under 75.
Among the over 65s numbers dying have more than doubled since 2013/14 when there were 15,900 excess winter deaths.
Over the last ten years a shocking quarter of a million older people have died from the cold -1 older person every 7 minutes. Age UK has calculated that over the last 60 years there have been a dreadful 2.5 million avoidable deaths among older people in England and Wales due to the winter cold. At the root of this problem are cold, poorly insulated homes.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: "After last year's modest improvement, this year's dramatic jump in excess winter deaths is a terrible rebuke to anyone who thought it was 'job done' when it comes to keeping older people safe from the cold. Indeed, these truly awful statistics represent a significant reverse and they highlight the imperative of us doing much more to tackle the underlying problem: cold, poorly insulated homes.
"Behind the figures are many individual tragedies of older people dying needlessly before their time. Not only is the human cost of cold devastating, treating the casualties piles big avoidable costs on the NHS and social care services too.
"The problem is we face a toxic combination of some of the coldest, most draughty homes in Europe, high energy bills and the absence of a comprehensive energy efficiency scheme to support older people in insulating their homes, so they can protect themselves against the very real threat of cold to their health.
"Today, through the Spending Review, the Government has the opportunity to show the leadership required to combat fuel poverty and cold homes. Above all, we need a sustained, ambitious energy efficiency programme, a workable replacement for the Green Deal and reform of the ECO.
"I don't want our successors to look back in fifty years' time and wonder how we knew older people were dying needlessly each year because of their poorly insulated homes, and yet we somehow failed to act. Many countries with colder climates than ours have far better records on cold-related deaths, showing we should be doing much better than we currently are. Cold homes have life and death consequences for older people and we should be deeply ashamed of that in an affluent country like ours".
Media contact: Vicky Smith
Telephone: 020 3033 1430
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Through its Campaign for Warm Homes, Age UK is calling on the Government to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority and to put in place a programme to lift six million homes occupied by households on low incomes up to EPC Band C by 2025, with two million of them reaching Band C by 2020. For more information, please go to www.ageuk.org.uk/warmhomes
We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI and our local Age UK partners in England (together the Age UK Family). We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.
Age UK believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances. We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle.
Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).