Action pledged to cut winter deaths in Bradford

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor Amir Hussain Councillor Amir Hussain

Health and social care bosses have pledged action after the number of people dying from cold in Bradford reached a 12-year high.

There were 320 excess winter deaths in the 2011/12 winter, an increase of a third on the year before and a higher rate than the regional and national average.

The number of deaths has now risen for four years running and there are fears the death rate in the particularly harsh 2012/13 winter was high too, although these figures are not yet available.

Public health officials have now set out what they are doing this winter to tackle the problem. Causes of winter deaths include flu, bad housing conditions and fuel poverty.

Bradford Council’s Government-funded b-warm initiative, which began in November, provides free or subsidised insulation and new boilers. It aims to eventually offer improvements to all households in the district, but is starting with those in deprived areas and the most vulnerable.

This winter, £30,000 is being spent on supplies for the district’s foodbanks, £20,000 on help for the homeless and £30,000 on clothing, bedding and flasks.

In total, the cost of this winter’s drive, called Warm Homes, Healthy People, is £360,000. The Council has also commissioned fuel poverty charity National Energy Action to draft an action plan, which will be published later this year.

Councillor Amir Hussain, executive member for adult services and health at Bradford Council, said: “We must all remember that these statistics represent people’s lives and the impact their health has on their families. We have a responsibility to ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect vulnerable people from the effects of the cold.

“There are already new projects under way for tackling fuel poverty, like the funding of the b-warm programme which includes the development of a project specifically aimed at vulnerable households, accessed through health professionals.”

Anita Parkin, director of public health, said the investment was being targeted at those most at risk.

She said: “Fuel poverty is still a significant problem for individuals’ health as cold homes and icy conditions can trigger complications in a number of conditions among vulnerable and elderly groups.”

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