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2019 National Retired Members Conference
11 June 2019
Carried as Amended

Conference notes with concern the growing number of winter deaths year by year as a result of cold related illnesses in England and Wales. An estimated 50,100 older people died in England and Wales between December 2017 and March 2018. This equates to 417 deaths a day or 17 deaths an hour which was the highest figure since 1975/76. The figures also showed a significant rise in winter deaths in each of the two preceding years. Whilst some of these deaths are as a result of falls and viruses the majority resulted from cold indoor temperatures. Winter mortality was greatest amongst women pensioners and people aged 85 and over. The figures for 2018/19 will not be available until November 2019.

Many poorer pensioners have a stark choice between heating their homes and putting food on their table. The potential loss of the £200 winter fuel allowance can only make matters worse and lead to a further unacceptable rise in winter deaths. Age UK estimates that fuel poverty costs the National Health Service around £1.3 billion every year.

Furthermore, preliminary data collected during the heatwave in June and July 2018 in England and Wales indicated a spike in seasonal deaths and an increase in emergency hospital admissions of older people often suffering from dehydration. Those with pre-existing heart, lung and kidney problems being most vulnerable.

Poorly insulated homes, lack of specialist housing stock and the inadequacy of social care have aggravated this problem.

Conference calls upon the National Retired Members’ Committee to:

1)Raise awareness of these issues with the National Executive Council, Labour Link and the Trades Union Congress;

2)Campaign with the National Pensioners Convention and Age UK for the retention of the winter fuel allowance and call for improvements to the heating and insulation standards of all existing homes and continue to call for improvements to staff terms and conditions of service, training and staffing levels in adult social care and care homes.