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2019 heatwaves lead to 892 deaths

UK: A new report reveals that there were 892 heat-related deaths of people aged 65 and over in England last summer as a result of heatwaves.

The report by Public Health England – PHE heatwave mortality monitoring: Summer 2019 – reports a large peak in deaths around 25 July, during which the hottest UK daytime temperature of 38.7ºC (101.7ºF) was recorded in Cambridge.

Commenting on the findings, Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said: “Tragically, many of these deaths are likely to have been preventable. Previous research has shown that many of the people who are killed by heatwave conditions die in their own homes or in care homes that overheat.”

A total of 3441 older people are reported to have been killed in England by summer heatwave conditions since 2016, with the frequency of heatwaves set to increase due to climate change.

“The Committee on Climate Change pointed out in July 2019 in its most recent progress report to Parliament that the Government has failed to set out a coherent plan for implementing the adaptations required for existing or new homes to be safe and habitable in increasing temperatures,” Ward commented.

“The Committee also noted that although there has been a heatwave plan for England since 2004, there is no evidence that it has reduced the number of deaths that occur during hot weather.

“The Government needs to act on the advice of the Committee on Climate Change and take much more seriously the dangers of hot weather. 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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