STAFFORD Borough has the highest number of excess winter deaths in the county – but the council and other organisations are joining forces to bring the number down.
The borough’s excess winter death rate is also higher than the national average, Stafford Borough Council’s health scrutiny committee was told by health and housing officer Tomos Jones on Tuesday.
Excess winter deaths are defined as the additional number of deaths during December to March compared to the average number during non-winter months.
On average there were 110 excess winter deaths in the borough each year for the past three years – 35 more than the county’s average, the committee heard. Nearly half the excess winter deaths were of over 85s, and there was a higher rate in women.
Stafford Borough Council is working with organisations including Staffordshire County Council, Stafford and Rural Homes, Age UK and the local clinical commissioning group (CCG) to bring down the excess winter deaths rate to the national average.
But Mr Jones said: “If you are looking for a golden bullet I don’t think we are going to find it. It is due to multiple factors but there are some things we can say are likely to have an impact.
“Cold indoor temperatures are one of the biggest factors; that’s about people’s ability to heat their homes. There is a link with fuel poverty and there we are very keen to tackle that in Stafford Borough.”
The most significant causes of excess winter deaths in the borough were circulatory disease and respiratory disease, he added, but the borough had a lower rate of flu vaccination uptake than the national average. “We can get people to take up the flu vaccination, which should have an effect,” he said.
The council is also working with other organisations to launch a referral scheme called Let’s Work Together, which will enable front line workers to identify people at risk of cold homes and refer them to agencies that can help.
Last week another scheme, Warmer Homes Stafford, was launched. The partnership involves two energy efficiency agencies who can advise residents on how to keep their homes warmer and they can be accessed by calling 0800 677 1785.