South Holland has highest number of avoidable winter deaths in county

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SOUTH Holland had the highest number of avoidable winter deaths in Lincolnshire for 2009-2010, according to a new report.

So called ‘seasonal excess deaths’ amongst older people go up by 8,000 across the UK for every degree Celsius fall below the winter average.

In 2009-2010 South Holland had 18.98 per cent seasonal excess deaths – higher than Lincoln at 18.52 per cent and higher than the East Midlands (14.54 per cent) and England (15.60 per cent).

Figures for last winter, regarded as harsher still, have not yet been compiled but are expected to be high.

The figures were revealed in a joint report for the NHS in Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire County Council.

The authorities say a range of “complex factors” influence the excess winter deaths, including fuel poverty, vulnerable people with long-term health conditions – particularly heart and respiratory problems – and the elderly having falls.

But apart from offering advice – including pointing some people on benefits towards home insulation funding – there is no real help from either authority for those who cannot afford to keep warm.

Coun Sue Woolley, the county council’s executive member for health, said: “NHS Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire County Council work closely with district councils and other key partners to support the most vulnerable during the winter period.

“People who are isolated and elderly are more at risk of illness throughout winter and need to keep warm and well.

“Your main living room should be kept between 18-21C and the rest of your home at a minimum of 16C.

“The Home Energy Lincolnshire Partnership (HELP) scheme offers funding support toward home insulation for people over aged 70 and people receiving benefits.

“It is easier to keep warm with several thin layers instead of one thick layer and people with heart or respiratory conditions should stay indoors during particularly cold periods.”

Coun Woolley also urged people to visit vulnerable neighbours to check their home is warm enough and that they have enough food and medicine supplies.”

Teresa Roche, public health consultant for NHS Lincolnshire, said: “Certain people are more likely to develop serious complications from seasonal flu and are strongly encouraged to protect themselves by getting the free annual flu jab; people aged 65 or over, all pregnant women, people within at risk groups and carers.”

The at risk groups include people with diabetes, chest problems, heart problems or stroke.

Ms Roche said: “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping active throughout the winter months will help the majority of us recover faster or avoid illness all together.

“It’s always a good idea to make sure your medicine cupboard is well stocked to treat coughs, colds and sore throats.

“People in Lincolnshire can call 111 for medical help fast when it isn’t a 999 emergency. The number is free to call, including from mobiles, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”