Age UK responds to dramatic jump in excess winter deaths
Author: Age UK
Published on 22 November 2017 12:00 AM
New figures released by the ONS today show that over the winter of 2016-17 there were 31,800 excess winter deaths among the over 65s from cold-related illness such as heart attacks and strokes[i] (compared to 20,800 the previous year). One third of all the excess winter deaths reported were caused by respiratory diseases.
Responding to the new figures, Age UK's Charity Director Caroline Abrahams, said:
'This dramatic jump in excess winter deaths in England is a terrible rebuke to anyone who thought it was "job done" when it comes to keeping older people safe and sound through the winter. Remember that every one of these deaths was, by definition, preventable.
'Without further research it is impossible to nail down cause and effect but it is notable that last winter was not especially severe and that the statistics remained stable in Wales. A less than fully effective flu vaccine is likely to be one culprit, but it is also true that many older people live in poorly insulated homes and worry about turning up the heating during the cold months, increasing their risk of ill health. In addition, we know the NHS and social care are under unprecedented strain and the net result is that poorly older people, often living alone, are not always getting the effective, timely help they need to nip emerging health problems in the bud.
'We cannot run the risk of these figures getting even worse next year so the Government must take urgent action to address the underlying causes - today's Budget is a good place to start.'
Age UK is urging older people to ensure they're doing everything possible to protect themselves against the cold weather. Anyone who is concerned about staying warm and healthy this winter should call the Charity's advice line free of charge on 0800 169 6565 or check its website www.ageuk.org.uk/winter for a free copy of its annually updated guide Winter wrapped up.
Notes to editors
Some key points:
- In the 2016 to 2017 winter period, there were an estimated 34,300 excess winter deaths (EWDs) in England and Wales, which represents an excess winter mortality (EWM) index of 20.9%.
- Although there has been an increase in EWDs, the number of EWDs does not exceed the peak that was observed in the 2014 to 2015 winter period; however, it was the second highest over the last five winter periods.
- Females and the elderly were most affected by excess winter mortality in the 2016 to 2017 winter period.
- Over one-third of all excess winter deaths were caused by respiratory diseases in England and Wales in 2016 to 2017.
- All of the English regions observed significant increases in the excess winter mortality index between winter periods 2015 to 2016 and 2016 to 2017, whereas excess winter mortality for Wales remained stable.
Age UK is a national charity that works with a network of partners, including Age Scotland, Age Cymru, Age NI and local Age UKs across England, to help everyone make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances.
In the UK, the Charity helps more than seven million older people each year by providing advice and support. It also researches and campaigns on the issues that matter most to older people. Its work focuses on ensuring that older people: have enough money; enjoy life and feel well; receive high quality health and care; are comfortable, safe and secure at home; and feel valued and able to participate
Age UK's subsidiary charity, Age International, supports older people globally in over 30 developing countries by funding programmes such as vital emergency relief and healthcare and campaigning to raise awareness and change policies.
Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and registered company number 6825798). Charitable services are provided through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's Community Interest Company (CiC) (registered company number 1102972) which donates its net profits to Age UK (the Charity).