Monday, 20 December 2010

Keeping warm in winter with the NHS!

God bless them! The NHS has issued advice to help keep us warm in winter, quoting winter death rates of up to 30,000 in the UK. It defines the vulnerable groups, including the elderly, disabled, those with heart and lung conditions and those on low incomes.

According to the General Register Office for Scotland winter deaths are on the decline, and it appears to deny that  Scots are dying from the effects of the winter cold: “There is no single cause of additional deaths in winter. Very few are caused by hypothermia. Most are from respiratory and circulatory diseases such as pneumonia, coronary heart disease and stroke. In only a small proportion of deaths is influenza recorded as the underlying cause.” The video on the NHS link however explains the link between cold weather and heart trouble and advises people with heart conditions to avoid extremes of temperature.

Do the people who give such advice consider that it does not apply to the millions of smokers – many of them elderly or disabled – who are expected to expose themselves to the cold outdoor air whenever they wish to smoke? The NHS link also points out the dangers of isolation and depression, especially for elderly people living alone. In order to satisfy those who fear the long-term effects of exposure to secondary smoke, we are putting society's most vulnerable in imminent danger from the combined effects of cold air, and extremes of temperature. The 'social and welfare clubs', pubs and cafés where people could pass the time of day in company with neighbours are, in many places, no longer fit for purpose and have sometimes not even survived.

Approaching 20,000 people died in the December 2009–March 2010 period in Scotland: a startlingly high figure compared with the figure quoted by the NHS as cold weather-related deaths for the UK. I don't understand why this total should be so high in relation to the national (UK) figure. The General Register Office seems confident of a continued downward trend, in spite of austerity measures in general and rising fuel prices in particular.

Lift the smoking ban so that people can use pubs and clubs as the uncensored and welcoming social meeting places that we want them to be, and that people need all the more in times of severe weather.


The witch from Essex said...

Perhaps it is in the interest of the Government that the elderly and disabled die ?
Aren't they referred to as the 'wasteful eaters' ?

anti snore said...

"People need to make sure that they keep warm, particularly elderly people. They should remain active wherever possible.