Cold weather fears after 33 people die

sp93144 Cold Weather Campaign. Dr Bruce Laurence
sp93144 Cold Weather Campaign. Dr Bruce Laurence

Last year 33 people died in the Dales because of treacherous freezing conditions.

Figures have also revealed that homes in the area deemed to be cold, outdated and rundown is around 30 per cent higher than the county average.

Now health bosses hope a new cold weather plan will protect the vulnerable from the devastating consequences of a big freeze – after the area came to a standstill during last year’s winter weather.

Dr Bruce Laurence, acting director of public health for NHS Derbyshire County, said: “Each year the cold weather takes its toll on the lives of hundreds of elderly and vulnerable people, who unnecessarily die because of the increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, falls and respiratory illnesses.”

He added: “Fuel bills are incredibly expensive and it can be really difficult to heat a house but there are benefits out there and people should make the most of them.”

Those most at risk of flu, including the over 65s, pregnant women and those with heart disease, breathing problems, diabetes and other long-term illnesses, are reminded that they should contact their GP to arrange to have a free flu jab.

Dr Laurence also urged people to look out for their neighbours during the cold winter months.

He said: “A lot of the isolated communities in our area do quite well at looking out for each other but on the other hand if it is more isolated and you don’t drive you can become trapped.

“Last year was a particularly severe test of our services and I think we coped well.

“I was in county hall emergency centre and all the services came together and worked really hard and managed to answer every call.”

However the number of homes failing the government’s Decent Homes Standard has been highlighted as a concern – with no ward in the Dales better than the national average and six out of 25 wards as much as 50 per cent worse.

Tim Braund, environmental health chief at Derbyshire Dales District Council, said: “We agree with what the PCT has said about the Decent Home Standard and fuel poverty and we are trying to do something about it.

“The main reason the housing stock in this area is failing is because it is old and has not been improved to very modern standards.”

The council offers a Warmstreets insulation scheme to give private householders the opportunity to have loft insulation installed from £49 and cavity wall insulation from £99, subject to a survey. People aged over 70 or on certain benefits may qualify for free insulation.

Mr Braund will be at Youlgrave market on December 10 from 10am to 12noon to give people information about the scheme.