December 13 2013 Latest news:
Friday, October 25, 2013
Health bosses worried that parts of the Norwich area see a disproportionately high number of winter deaths have launched a campaign to stop more people dying this year.
Public-health experts believe that, in the city, there are between 60 and 80 more deaths during the winter than the rest of the year.
They say the number of what are known as “excess winter deaths” is on the rise and there are three wards – Sewell, Sprowston Central and Town Close – where the number of such deaths is particularly high. Almost all were older people and most of them had a long-term condition such as heart or breathing problems.
So, with the clocks going back this weekend and the evenings drawing in, a new campaign has been launched to help keep people healthy and warm during the colder months.
Households in Sewell, Sprowston Central and Town Close will receive ‘top tips’ on leaflets and posters, showing how to reduce the risk of becoming ill.
The campaign has been organised by the NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group, Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, Age UK and local councils.
Dr David Goldser, of NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group and a GP at the city’s St Stephens Gate Medical Practice, said: “There have always been greater numbers of people who become more ill and greater numbers of deaths during the winter months because cold weather can make some medical conditions considerably worse.
“However with a little forward planning and extra care, people can protect themselves and reduce the risk of becoming seriously unwell.”
Dr Augustine Pereira, consultant in public health medicine for Norfolk County Council, said: “Communities can play an important role and help people stay warm and well. Simple things like just looking out for our elderly neighbours play a vital part in helping keep people safe.
“Above all, I would urge people now to get their flu jabs. The majority of “excess” deaths are due to respiratory infections and the flu jab offers a good degree of protection.
“This is particularly relevant for people with a pre-existing respiratory condition such as COPD or a weakened immune system.”
Research by Dr Pereira and his colleagues shows that over the long-term, “excess winter deaths” have been rising in Norwich.
Their figures suggest that during any one year there are about 1,100 deaths in Norwich. But at least 400 of those occur in the four coldest months – a disproportionate amount.
The measurement they use is the Excess Winter Deaths Index (EWD), which is the excess of deaths in winter compared with non-winter months, expressed as percentage.
Analysis of data for a nine year period up to 2011 shows that for the county of Norfolk, the EWD Index was 18.3pc. Norwich had the highest EWD Index in Norfolk, at 23.9pc.
Within Norwich, Town Close was at 31.4pc, Sewell at 29pc and Sprowston Central at 25pc.
Phil Wells, chief executive of Age UK Norwich, said: “Older people are particularly vulnerable in cold weather as they may be at home all day, finding it hard to stay active and managing on a small pension.
“It is important to keep warm, follow the top tips, and contact us if you are finding bills hard to meet. You may be eligible for benefits or be paying too much for your energy.”
The Norfolk Community Foundation, Age UK Norfolk and our sister paper the EDP are once again running the Surviving Winter campaign.
The campaign aims to raise £100,000, which will be used to help some of the county’s most vulnerable people, giving grants to keep them warm at winter.
You can give a donation direct to the appeal at any branch of Barclays Bank in Norfolk.
Just fill in the credit slip using the following details: Surviving Winter Appeal, Barclays Bank, Sort Code: 20-62-53, Bank Account: 03282503.
You can now donate to the Surviving Winter campaign by text from any UK network via JustTextGiving.
The campaign’s code is NFCF11, which needs to be followed by the amount £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 (max), and send to 70070.
For example: A donor would text ‘NFCF11 £5’ and send it to 70070 to donate £5.
All text donations are free and no VAT is charged.