For immediate use: 28 November 2014
Government can take no credit for fall in winter deaths among pensioners
Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has called on ministers to acknowledge that today’s fall in the excess winter death figures among the elderly were due to “luck rather than design”.
The provisional figures show there were 18,200 deaths between December 2013 and March 2014 from cold related illnesses – equal to over 150 deaths per day or 6 an hour.
The NPC points out that the cold claims more lives in UK than in Sweden where temperatures regularly plunge to -30C in winter & sometimes to -53C. As a proportion, excess winter deaths accounted for 4.61% of all UK deaths, compared with 3.76% in Sweden.
Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “Government ministers can take no credit for the fall in winter deaths among Britain’s pensioners because they have simply walked away from the problem and started crossing their fingers. Of course any fall in winter deaths is welcome, but 150 pensioners dying a day can hardly be described as a cause for celebration. Making sure older people have got a well insulated warm home and the income to pay the fuel bills is a basic requirement of what a decent society should do. How can colder Scandinavian countries avoid this annual toll while we simply wring our hands? The government needs to roll out a more effective programme to insulate homes, build more suitable properties for older people, raise the winter fuel allowance and tackle the excessive profits of the big six energy companies.”