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Related to: Major Causes of Mortality, House Conditions, Fuel Poverty

Key Facts

  • At 18.9 on the Excess Winter Deaths index from 2012-15, B&NES is not statistically different to national and regional rates for excess winter mortality
  • Between 2005 and 2009, rates of excess winter mortality were very high compared to national and regional rates, this has been attributed as much to a reduction in deaths in the summer than in a rise in winter mortality

Definition

Excess Winter Death rates are used to assess the impact of cold weather on health. In Britain there are approximately 20% more deaths in winter (December to March) than summer but in other, much colder, countries the excess is smaller, for example in Finland there are approximately 10% excess winter deaths 1. This suggests that winter deaths are not an inevitable part of cold weather and measures such as helping people keep warm at home and flu vaccinations in the elderly can all help to reduce the excess of deaths that occur in the winter.

What does the data say? 2

In B&NES, over the 3 years from Aug 2012 to Jul 2015 there were 286 recorded excess winter deaths, a value of 18.9 on the excess winter deaths index (all persons). This is slightly lower than the regional and national figures (19.9 and 19.6 respectively) however due to small numbers, there is no statistical difference. This same pattern is true across the region with the exception of Poole.

Fig 1: 4.15iii – Excess winter deaths index (3 years. All ages, all persons) Aug 2012 – July 2015

B&NES is also not statistically different from national and regional figures by gender, age or when considering only the last year (Aug2014-July 2015) of available deaths data.

 

Fig 2: 4.15iii – Excess winter deaths index (3 years. All ages, all persons) trend over time 2001-4 to 2012-15

Looking at rolling 3-year figures over time, B&NES is now back in-line with national figures following significantly higher rates recorded in 2005-8 and 2006-9. For this period, when rates of summer and winter deaths were examined separately in B&NES, a drop in summer deaths was a bigger factor in this than a rise in winter deaths. 

For details of the PHE Excess Winter Deaths Index see http://www.phoutcomes.info/