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Excess Deaths In Winter & Summer

November 9, 2014

By Paul Homewood

 

While we are on the topic of excess, or premature, deaths, it is worth rerunning a post I did last November on the subject.

Figures for last winter should be available in a couple of weeks, so I will update then

 

 

 

24,000 Excess Winter Deaths In England & Wales

 

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https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cold-weather-plan-launches-to-prepare-for-winter

 

 

We often hear that global warming will lead to greater levels of excess deaths during summer months. The NHS has even launched its “Heatwave Plan for England”,

 

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Of course, I have no problem with taking sensible action against any potential risk to health, but perhaps we need to get things into proper perspective. According to the Office for National Statistics,

In common with other countries, in England and Wales more people die in the winter than in the summer. There were an estimated 24,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2011/12.

Indeed, excess deaths in summer is such a non-problem that they don’t even keep statistics for it. We can take a look at the death rates by month to see this.

 

 

 

First, a look at how “winter excess deaths” are defined:

The ONS standard method defines the winter period as December to March, and compares the number of deaths that occurred in this winter period with the average number of deaths occurring in the preceding August to November and the following April to July.

 

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Not only are the four “winter” months higher than the mean, the months of June to September have the lowest death rates of all. This does not mean that nobody dies of heat related causes in summer, but it does mean that such deaths are fewer than other seasonally related ones during the rest of the year, (even Spring!)

The “Heatwave Plan”, mentioned above, discusses the heatwave of 2003, probably the hottest spell in recent years, so let’s take a look at the weekly death rates during that year.

 

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There is a discernible blip upwards around the end of July, but even then the death rate is not only well below the winter rate, but also below the spring and autumn level.

What about the long term trend for excess winter deaths?

 

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Apart from a few spikes, the trend looks pretty flat.

It would be wrong to claim that the government is ignoring the problem of excess winter deaths, but it is clearly a far more serious issue than any that might crop up during hot summers. And what is apparent is that fuel poverty, exacerbated by climate change policies, will simply serve to make matters far worse.

 

 

 

References

All data from the ONS

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health2/excess-winter-mortality-in-england-and-wales/2011-12–provisional–and-2010-11–final-/index.html

10 Comments
  1. John F. Hultquist permalink
    November 9, 2014 9:27 pm

    This is a case of follow the money. However, it is also a problem that will solve itself as soon as these folks get the memo that severe cold and snow are caused by global warming.
    To get funding for just about anything one needs to tie it to global warming. Hot summers were the low hanging fruit. Now that “climate scientists” have shown that cold is caused by warm the good folks at Public Health England can move ahead with the planning for winter.
    I hope that clears up any confusion.

  2. November 9, 2014 9:33 pm

    Thanks for publicising this. It’s a simple fact that those most likely to die from winter related illnesses are also those most likely to be affected by rising fuel bills.

    Another interesting thing is that according to a research at the Royal society, India has more winter deaths than summer.

  3. Green Sand permalink
    November 9, 2014 10:11 pm

    Paul, the problem lies with successive governments shirking their fundamental responsibility to carry out due diligence on the advice they are given before passing any legislation.

    The following is from “The Jewel in the Crown’s” interpretation of the 2009 UK Climate Projections:-

    “Impacts on the UK energy industry”

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/services/climate-services/uk/ukcp/impacts/energy

    “What have we done?

    Using our climate models to assess future temperature increases, we looked at how this could effect all aspects of the energy industry. This included factoring in issues such as the affect of heat on the efficiency of thermal power stations. We also studied the potential changes in demand as our seasons are altered under climate change – such as an expected shift in peak power demand to the summer as people rely more on air conditioning.”

    O yes, just what have you done?

    “….such as an expected shift in peak power demand to the summer as people rely more on air conditioning.”

    Does anybody in the UK, anybody at all. actually believe that statement?

    And I include Baroness Worthington, because anybody who does should not be allowed to hold any public office whatsoever, and with regard to whoever wrote it and has left it there for 5 years, well there are no words…….

  4. tom0mason permalink
    November 10, 2014 8:31 am

    “Excess Deaths In Winter” is
    Government sponsored unnatural selection at work.

  5. November 10, 2014 8:40 am

    As I understand the situation with excess summer deaths is that it affects people with life threatening conditions and brings death forward by a few weeks or months. After the heatwave is over there is a subsequent drop in deaths in these categories. On the other hand excess winter deaths are just that, people who, but for the cold and damp, would have lived for several years are the victims.

    I’m sure I read about some research to that effect a couple of years ago but can’t find it at the moment.

    • November 10, 2014 4:29 pm

      And in winter blood thickens and moves into the body core. More chance of clotting. According to a BBC documentary I was watching yesterday London is the winter death capital, but in winter 2012/13 highest was NW, London was lowest

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2513719/Number-deaths-linked-freezing-winter-increases-30-31-000-temperatures-fell-record-lows.html

      Notable how the deaths have dropped over the years, pretty much levelling off since the turn of the millennium as more have been taken out of the fuel poverty of the past, especially post 1960s (clean air acts?)

      As sad as it is that so many people still die from quite preventable causes, our success globally in preventing suffering from natural climate extremes is quite astonishing.

  6. Bloke down the pub permalink
    November 10, 2014 11:05 am

    I would guess that a number of the summer excess deaths are caused by conditions such as asthma, so the deaths are due to the weather in general rather than specifically the heat. Can’t think of an easy way to check that out.

  7. manicbeancounter permalink
    November 10, 2014 6:37 pm

    If average temperatures did become warmer, there are a lot of lessons we can learn from elsewhere. In particular from the extreme heatwave in France in 2003, where about 20,000 people died. The then Government identified the causes and put in place emergency plans in case it happened again. I believe that the solution is relatively inexpensive compared with getting the excess winter deaths down here.
    Comparisons should be made with US states, particularly those in the mid-west with extreme high temperatures in summer and extreme cold in winter. If excess heat is a problem, they should have death rate peaks in both summer and winter.

    • November 10, 2014 8:21 pm

      Wasn’t the problem in France partially due to the fact it happened in August when the families of the vulnerable were in apartments in Paris, Lyon and Strasbourg while their families were on holiday in the South of France or the Vendee.

  8. CLIVE THORPE HUGHES permalink
    November 26, 2015 9:21 am

    The Winter Fuel allowance = £200 per household. My guess is that the government are simply allowing fuel supply companies to up their prices to include this amount – so it seems to me.

    The cheapest way to keep older folk warm in winter is to buy/rent old folks homes in somewhere warm – Cyprus is about 60F in December/Jan rising to a blazing hot 95F+ in Summer but that can be taken care of with aircon.

    But then no one listens to my ideas which actually work out cheaper in the long run.

    Child of the London Blitz – oh and thank you mister chancellor for the £3.35 weekly increase in the state pension from April 2016 – but it won’t buy me a pint in a pub in London where it costs about £4.50+ or even a cup of coffee at Stir Bonks.

    Rage Against Evertything.

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