Commenting on ONS figures on Excess Winter Deaths in 2014/2015, Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said:
“These shocking figures show that the over 75’s are most at risk by far of excess winter deaths. But tens of thousands of excess winter deaths do not need to be an inevitable part of cold weather. Countries like Finland and Germany have significantly lower levels of excess winter deaths, despite having colder winters than us.
“The uncomfortable truth is that, as a country, we’re not very good at coping with winter and many of these deaths are preventable. This isn’t just a story about cold weather; it’s a story of cold, damp and poorly insulated homes and pensioners who can’t afford to pay heating bills.
“Tragically, the influenza vaccine was only effective in a third of cases last winter, which appears to have been a factor major factor in the rise. But even discounting the impact of the flu, the figures are still far higher than previous years.
“Councils, the government and energy companies need to help with things like insulating homes and assistance with energy bills for vulnerable customers. But there are also simple things we can all do like checking on our frail and elderly family and neighbours in cold weather. And making sure they are able to take-up their flu vaccination, wrap-up warm and eat well.
“Older people and their family, friends and neighbours can download or order a copy of our Winter Wise Guide, which is full of practical tips on staying warm and healthy in the winter months.”
Download a copy of our ‘Being winter wise’ guide or a hard copy can be ordered on 0800 319 6789.