Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Why is Britain no country for cold, old men ?

My research tells me that :

An increased death rate associated with the winter months is a widespread international phenomenon, but Britain has one of the worst records in Europe. A World Health Organisation report published by its European Regional Office states : 'The magnitude of the excess in the United Kingdom, at over 40,000 deaths every winter is the highest in the European Union… A large component of excess winter deaths is preventable. Recent analysis suggests that the seasonal variations are related to indoor rather than outdoor temperatures… that excess winter deaths are related to poor housing conditions—insufficient thermal insulation, ineffective heating systems and fuel poverty.'

In Britain a one degree drop below the winter average will lead to an additional 8,000 extra deaths. This was a higher proportion than in countries such as Russia and Finland with much more severe winters than Britain.

'Help the Aged' linked fuel poverty to the high level of winter deaths. Their press statement explains that over one million households containing an old person were classed as being in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is defined as spending more than 10 percent of income on fuel to heat the home. “Many are forced to make the critical decision between heating and eating during the winter months. For 25,000 older people each year this decision is fatal.” It spelt out the reasons for fuel poverty :

* low incomes
* houses that are energy inefficient
* the high level of fuel prices

So, there you go.

More of Britain's old men die in the winter, not because it is cold outside but because they are poor and cold inside their poorly insulated accommodation.

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