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Cold Weather Plan for England Reissued

Public Health England have launcheThe Cold Weather Plan for England 2015d The Cold Weather Plan for England (16th October 2016). Despite the warming effects of climate change, cold weather remains, the biggest cause of weather related mortality in England. The Cold Weather Plan for England aims to prevent avoidable harm to health, by alerting people to the negative health effects of cold weather, and enabling them to prepare and respond appropriately.

The plan recommends a series of steps, to be taken throughout the year, to reduce the risks to health from cold weather for:

 the NHS, local authorities, social care, and other public agencies

 professionals working with people at risk

 individuals, local communities and voluntary groups

The plan is published by Public Health England but developed in partnership with the Department of Health, NHS England, the Local Government Association, the Voluntary and Community sector and other stakeholders.

The Cold Weather Plan has been published annually since 2011. This year’s plan builds on the experience of developing and improving the ability of the health and social care sector and its partners to deal with significant periods of cold weather.

Most of the actions identified in the Cold Weather Plan  have been carried forward into the latest edition. Key changes which have been made include:

confirmation of the preliminary findings of the 2012-2013 evaluation of the Cold Weather Plan, indicating that the majority of the burden of cold-related ill-health occurs at moderate outdoor winter temperatures (from 4-8ºC). These findings require an increased emphasis on level 0 (year-round planning) and level 1 (winter preparedness and action) to protect ‘at-risk’ population groups, which has already been incorporated in recent versions

consistency checking with the new NICE Guidance on Excess winter deaths and morbidity and the health risks associated with cold homes leading to the inclusion of pregnant women as a ‘vulnerable’ group. The Cold Weather Plan is entirely consistent with the NICE recommendations, including the need for strategic approaches, single point of contact services offering tailored solutions to which all who come into contact with vulnerable people can refer.

reference to the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s new strategy – Cutting the cost of keeping warm: A fuel poverty strategy for England which emphasises the role the health and social care sector can play in tackling fuel poverty

updated advice on flu vaccination consistent with this year’s recommendations

publication of a new leaflet entitled ‘Top Tips for Keeping Warm and Well’, in collaboration with the Department for Work and Pensions. The leaflet is targeted at pensioners in receipt of pension credit in England, Scotland and Wales. It will sit alongside an updated Keep Warm Keep Well booklet.

Cold Weather Alerts

To support the Plan, the Met Office will issue Cold Weather Alerts from 1 November 2016 to 31 March 2017. During this period, the Met Office will issue alerts which may forecast periods of severe cold weather on the basis of either of two measures: low mean temperatures of 2°C or less; and/or heavy snow and ice. There are five levels:

 Level 0 (long term planning, all year)

 Level 1 (winter preparedness and action, 1 Nov to 31 March)

 Level 2 (severe winter weather is forecast) – mean temperature of 2°C and/or widespread ice and heavy snow are predicted within 48 hours, with 60% confidence

 Level 3 (response to severe winter weather) mean temperature of 2°C ad/or widespread ice and heavy snow is now occurring

 Level 4 (major incident – declared by central government)

Detailed tables are available in the main body of the plan. Followed by key public health messages to protect health in cold weather.

The plan is a good practice guide and the actions denoted within it are illustrative. It is a collaborative plan supported by PHE, NHS England, the Local Government Association, the Met Office and the Department of Health to protect and promote the health of the population of England.

To see the Cold Weather Plan for England cold_weather_plan_2016

For other advice and information about being more prepared for severe weather visit http://www.birminghamprepared.gov.uk/advice/specific-risks/snow-and-low-temperatures/

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