Winter kills 120 people in resort

Tony Ward, chairman of Wyre Senior Forum
Tony Ward, chairman of Wyre Senior Forum
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“THESE deaths could have been avoided.”

That was the message after it was revealed cold weather and freezing temperatures were responsible for more than 100 avoidable deaths in Blackpool last year.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, there were 120 winter deaths in the resort between 2010 and 2011.

Although this was 20 fewer than the previous year it was double the amount of deaths in Wyre and Fylde and those responsible for taking care of the elderly say the victims did not have to die.

Terri Sawkill, acting chief executive of Blackpool Age UK, labelled the deaths “unnecessary” and called for neighbours to look out for others.

She said: “As part of Age UK’s Spread the Warmth Campaign, we have a very simple message and that is to urge everyone to become more aware and alert in looking out for an older person – be it a family member or even a neighbour.

“We should all be more alert and aware and hopefully work towards seeing a reduction in unnecessary winter deaths across Blackpool.”

Tony Ward, chairman of Wyre Senior Forum, is also encouraging people to look out for their neighbours.

He added: “The deaths could have been avoided, even though we can’t prevent every death.

“There are a whole bunch of measures people can take but the most important thing is taking care of your neighbours by checking to see if a bottle of milk has been taken in or even knocking on their door and asking if they are OK.

“It also makes a lot of sense for elderly people to have their flu injection.”

Health professionals have urged the elderly to stay safe this winter.

Both Fylde and Wyre saw 60 people die as a result of the cold weather last year. In Fylde that was the same number as the previous year while Wyre increased by 10.

Blackpool Victoria Hospital is reminding people to get the treatment which is right for them through their Choose Well campaign, which uses a colour coded thermometer to help people link symptoms with an NHS service.

Simon Tucker, A&E consultant at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation trust, told The Gazette: “For the past few years we have seen a year on year increase in the number of people using emergency NHS services.

“We need them to think twice and make sure they choose the right service for minor illnesses, ailments and injuries.”

Coun Kath Rowson, Blackpool Council cabinet member for adult social care, added: “We’re very proud of the council’s Care and Repair team’s work throughout the winter to make contact to help vulnerable adults to access the right advice and grants.

“That helps to make sure they stay warm and well in their own homes and is work that has been recognised nationally.

“The most important tip is for people to make sure they keep eating regularly, including at least one hot meal per day.”