Cold winter weather kills two a day in Doncaster

A cold pensioner.
A cold pensioner.

Cold weather contributes to two deaths a day in Doncaster during the winter, public health experts today warned.

The figures are highlighted in a report which says 235 people died as a result of the cold in Doncaster in 2012-13, through what officials call excess winter deaths.

Now health bosses are drawing up plans to find people who are at risk and have trained health staff to look out for them.

The worst hit communities in the Doncaster borough are Mexborough, Conisbrough, Bessacarr, Armthorpe and Intake.

Dr Tony Baxter, Doncaster Council’s director of public health, said: “Cold homes harm health and we want fewer people to suffer from living in a cold home.

“That is why working with partners to tackle fuel poverty is a priority for the council and we run initiatives to help people keep warm.

“This winter we are raising awareness of the importance of keeping warm, including leaflets with advice and tips on how to prepare for the cold weather, and we have trained hundreds of staff to spot the signs that people may need help to stay warm and healthy.

“Our work also includes energy efficiency improvements to council owned housing, working closely with private landlords and the Big Power Switch which allows households to sign up to buy energy together.

“The more households who join the Big Power Switch, then the more bargaining power we have when negotiating with the energy providers.”

The report, Doncaster’s Affordable Winter Warmth Plan 2014-17, warns that statistics suggest there are an estimated 14,516 households in fuel poverty in Doncaster.

It says 10 per of the Doncaster population are classified as being in fuel poverty and the borough is ranked 16th out of 28 ‘manufacturing towns’ in England.

The plan adds that fuel poverty has significant negative effects on these residents’ health and well-being.

And it warns fuel poverty is a clear contributory factor in health issues such as excess winter deaths, respiratory diseases, falls and poor mental health.

Cold homes also have a significant impact on a range of other factors, such as the ability of young people to undertake homework effectively and an individual’s ability to manage their finances and debt effectively.

The report says Doncaster has a higher than national and regional average for excess winter deaths which are calculated as the difference between the number of deaths during the four winter months of December to March and the average number of deaths during the preceding autumn from August to November and the following summer from April to July.

Experts say evidence suggests a strong link between excess winter deaths and cold homes and countries which have lower excess winter deaths have more energy efficient housing.

Excess winter deaths are significantly more likely in private rented and owner-occupied homes, houses built before 1850 and damp houses, it adds.