24,000 killed last winter are just 'tip of the iceberg'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Health and also in Central Government, Communities, Environment, Housing
A charity has said that statistics showing there were 24,000 excess winter deaths (EWDs) over 2011/12 are only the "tip of the iceberg".
National Energy Action (NEA) said the ONS EWD figures don't reveal the reality that millions of fuel poor households suffer with cold-related illnesses during the winter.
The charity points to a recent report by Age UK that estimates cold homes are costing the NHS in England £1.36 billion every year in hospital and primary care treatments, with the majority caused by strokes and heart attacks.
The ONS figures show that there were 8% fewer EWDs last winter compared with winter 2010/11.
Maria Wardrobe, Director of External Affairs at NEA, said: "These figures demonstrate that if you are a vulnerable person living in England or Wales then even a comparatively mild winter can still be deadly. However, the fact that our Scandinavian neighbours experience much harsher winters and have nowhere near the same level of winter deaths means that we should not accept this as inevitable. Increasing the investment in improving the energy efficiency of our housing, particularly for those who are poor and vulnerable, has to be an urgent priority for the UK Government."
NEA believes that heating and insulation improvements represent the only sustainable solution to ensuring long-term affordable warmth, and is urging chancellor George Osborne to tackle Britain’s cold homes.
The charity says that the Treasury should deploy funds raised from fuel VAT and carbon tax revenues into a domestic energy efficiency programme, which could go a long way to eradicating fuel poverty and reduce the numbers of EWDs in future years.
The ONS statistics reveal that London saw the greatest amount of EWDs last winter. Wales, which was hit hardest in 2010/11, had one of the lowest EWD counts in 2011/12, second only to the North East of England.
As in previous years, there were more EWDs in females than in males last winter.
According to the ONS figures, the winter of 1950/51 - the year records began - saw the greatest amount of EWDs, when 106,400 were recorded.
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