Winter death figures prompt call for action on energy efficiency
National Records of Scotland figures show winter deaths in 2014/15 were at their highest level since 1999/2000
Campaigners have urged the Government to act on energy efficiency in housing, following figures showing that winter deaths in 2014/15 were at their highest level since 1999/2000.
The figures, released by the National Records of Scotland, show increased winter mortality was more than twice what it was the year before.
More than 4,000 more people died last winter, compared to the average for the year.
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland’s director Theresa Fyffe said: “It's indefensible that cold, hard-to-heat homes continue to leave the most vulnerable in our society at the mercy of cold weather each winter. “
She added: “Ending cold homes and cutting fuel bills through improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes should be a priority for political parties coming in to next year’s Scottish Parliament election.”
Over 50 civic organisations have joined forces to call on the Scottish Government to take action to improve energy efficiency in housing.
Existing Homes Alliance, which includes anti-poverty campaigners, environmental groups and construction bodies, has urged the Scottish Government to ensure that by 2025 all homes in Scotland are at least an Energy Performance Certificate band ‘C’.
Age Scotland’s Greg McCracken said: “The poor condition of Scotland's existing housing stock means much of the energy which older people use trying to stay warm will be lost, something many can ill-afford. That's why a comprehensive and long-term approach to ridding Scotland of cold and draughty homes is critical if we are to ensure figures like these are consigned to the history books."
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Despite our Nordic neighbours having even chillier climates, their better quality housing means that they have less of a problem with increased winter mortality. Improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes would make a significant contribution to reducing the number of vulnerable people who die each winter from the effects of cold homes. In addition to improving public health, insulating all homes to a ‘C’ standard would also create up to 9,000 jobs a year, cut fuel bills and help tackle climate emissions. We urge all the political parties to commit to eliminating the scourge of cold, energy-wasting, hard-to-heat homes in Scotland.”
Tim Ellis, chief executive of the National Records of Scotland, said: “Looking at our figures, which go back to 1951/52, the long-term trend has clearly been downward. Despite the latest winter’s unusually high figure, the five-year moving average (which smoothes out much of the year-to-year fluctuation) is at its second lowest ever level.
“There is no single cause of additional deaths in winter. Very few are caused by hypothermia and only a small proportion by influenza. The underlying causes of most of the additional deaths include respiratory and circulatory diseases (such as pneumonia, coronary heart disease and stroke), dementia, and Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.”
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