Observed health impacts in England of the 'Beast from the East; a severe cold weather episode during 2018
PHE ePoster Library. Thompson R. 04/10/19; 257492; 15370
Ross Thompson
Ross Thompson
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Abstract Background:
Cold weather has both direct and indirect effects on health. Cardiovascular and respiratory mortality and morbidity dominate while direct impacts, such as hypothermia, are less common. There are between 20,000 and 30,000 excess winter deaths in the United Kingdom annually, with significant variation year to year. A number of factors contribute to this burden, including low temperatures and circulating infectious diseases such as flu. The end of February and start of March 2018 saw the most significant spell of snow and low temperatures in England since the launch of the Cold Weather Plan in 2011. AimTo describe the health impacts observed during the 'Beast from the East' using a range of health surveillance data. MethodDescriptive analysis of the impacts using;PHE real-time national syndromic surveillance data, Weekly excess all-cause mortality data estimates from the EuroMOMO algorithm.
Decreases in total health service activity were detected across total NHS 111 calls, GP out of hours consultations and Emergency Department (ED) attendances but increases were observed in ED attendances for conditions related to the impact of cold. There was a small excess in all-mortality observed in the over 65's coinciding with the period of cold weather. Discussion & ConclusionsThis study illustrates the utility of routinely collected data to monitor the impacts of severe weather in near real-time. This information can be used to target messaging appropriately. Work is required to quantify the health impact of cold weather in terms of morbidity and mortality. Despite conditions that were unusually severe, the PHE-issued alert remained at Level 3 which may not have adequately communicated the potential impacts. Consideration may need to be given to the feasibility of including an indicator for the magnitude of potential impacts in any future iterations of the alerts system. Funding n/a
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