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Summary

Adults :: Excess winter deaths :: Summary

In common with other areas, Medway experiences higher levels of mortality in the winter than in the summer. Studies have found that mortality increases as mean daily temperatures fall (below 18 degrees) and, in England and Wales, the total excess winter mortality is estimated to be around 30,000 per annum. Although excess winter mortality (EWM) is associated with low temperatures, conditions directly relating to cold, such as hypothermia, are not the main cause of EWM. The majority of additional winter deaths are caused by cerebrovascular diseases, ischaemic heart disease and respiratory diseases. Mortality in England and Wales however, increases more than in other European countries with colder climates, suggesting that factors other than temperature also contribute. There is no clear cut explanation for excess winter mortality. It would appear to be due to a variety of factors. Consequently, the response needs to be similarly multi-faceted.

Key issues and gaps

Medway sees highest levels of excess winter mortality in Gillingham South, Watling and Strood North wards.

Knowledge and research gaps:

There is a relatively limited local understanding around excess winter death and morbidity, from the epidemiological standpoint, through to individual clinicians on the ground.

Service gaps:

Besides the seasonal flu vaccination programme, specific measures to tackle EWM are in their infancy. As such the main gap is the lack of a strategic, systematic partnership based approach with relevant measures beneath it.