The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has today released figures showing that nearly 44,000 ‘excess winter deaths’ occurred in 2014/15, 27% higher than in non-winter months and the highest level of excess winter deaths since 1999/00. The shock findings also reveal that the majority of deaths occurred amongst those aged 75 and over, with an estimated 36,300 winter deaths in that age group compared to 7,700 aged under 75.
The figures are released on the same day that the charity Turn2us, who last week launched their No Cold Homes campaign, revealed that 81% of the public believe that the government should be doing more to tackle fuel poverty. In addition to this 82% believe that the energy sector should be doing more to tackle the problem.
Responding to the news, Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us, commented,
"No one should have to live in a cold home this winter through fear of fuel costs and this fresh research, released today, shows that the public expect the government and the energy companies to do more to support those scared of putting the heating on. Today’s disturbing increase in winter mortality figures show that more must be done to support those struggling, and that is why our No Cold Homes campaign is so important. I would urge anyone concerned with how they, or a relative or friend, are going to be able to afford to heat their home this winter to visit turn2us.org.uk/NoColdHomes"
The report, published this morning by the ONS, shows that the problem was highest in the South West with respiratory diseases proving to be the underlying cause of death in more than a third of cases.
The figures also revealed that the number of daily deaths in 2014/15 peaked on 1 January, and remained about 30% above average until 10 January, and around 10% above average until early March. From this peak on 1 January, the number of daily deaths gradually declined until the beginning of April at which point they reached levels similar to the five-year average. The number of daily deaths was highest above the five-year average on 10 January (38% higher).
The report also shows that 78% more people died from respiratory diseases in the winter, compared with the non-winter period. Pneumonia accounted for the largest proportion of these deaths. This is significantly higher than in 2013/14, when there were 30% more respiratory disease deaths in the winter compared with the non-winter period. Respiratory diseases also caused the largest number of excess winter deaths in 2014/15 (15,800), accounting for over a third of all excess winter deaths.
"These figures reveal the how dangerous it can be for older people to have to struggle in a cold home,” added Turn2us. “A significant portion of these deaths are as a result of conditions that are exacerbated by not being able to afford to heat your home. It is therefore absolutely essentially that those struggling know of what support is available. If you, or someone you know, are struggling with the cost of heating please visit turn2us.org.uk/nocoldhomes to find out what support is available"
*New research released today carried out by ComRes who interviewed 2,014 GB adults between 30th October and 1st November on behalf of the Turn2us No Cold Homes campaign
You can read the full report from the ONS at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health2/excess-winter-mortality-in-england-and-wales/2014-15--provisional--and-2013-14--final-/stb-ewm.html