health - cold weather kills


Last winter an estimated 21,500 people over 65 died in England and Wales as result of the cold, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics. Scottish deaths are calculated separately. This figure represents a slight decrease on the previous year although the death rate in the North West region rose despite the relatively mild winter.

Since the late 1990s winters have been relatively mild, and the ONS pointed out that cold winters in 1988 and 1999 saw dramatic increases in death rates with figures of 44,000+ and 45,000+ deaths from cold in the over-65s.

The weather forecasters are having difficulty predicting the nature of the 2004 winter. But it is already clear that all households will see a marked rise in electricity and gas bills, with many companies already sending out letters to households to warn them of the average weekly rise in prices.