Heatwaves led to 900 extra deaths in 2019, figures show

Temperatures reached 38.7C in Cambridge

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Almost 900 “excess deaths” are thought to have occurred during the heatwaves of last summer, according to figures released by Public Health England (PHE).

Among over-65s there were an estimated 892 deaths in summer 2019 that were additional to those expected in line with the baseline mortality rate.

Provisional data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last October indicated the number of deaths had spiked on the hottest day of the summer - July 25.

Temperatures in Cambridge broke the record for the highest ever recorded in the UK, soaring to a scorching 38.7C.

There were an estimated 572 additional deaths during that week of July 21-28, with 320 occurring between August 23 and 29.

The areas that were worst hit by significant excess deaths were the North East and East Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, East of England, London and South East.

Emer OConnell, head of extreme events and health protection at PHE warned that climate change is expected the cause “more frequent and more intense” hot spells.

He added that PHE is working to update its Heatwave Plan for England to address risks identified in the second Climate Change Risk Assessment.

Bob Ward, from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said: “Tragically, many of these deaths are likely to have been preventable.”

He criticised the government for having “failed to set out a coherent plan” to implement adaptations to make homes safe in increasing temperatures.

Mr Ward added: “The threat of deadly heatwaves is growing due to climate change and the death toll is likely to rise unless there is strong action to protect those who are most vulnerable to hot weather.”

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