Heatwave: Heat-related deaths set to treble without action to protect people, warns MP
A Catholic MP has urged the Government to do more to protect the public from heatwaves.
Heatwaves cause premature deaths from cardiac, kidney and respiratory disease, put pressure on health and social services and hit wellbeing and productivity.
However, despite this, Mary Creagh, chairwoman of the Environmental Audit Committee, has warned that the public see heatwave warnings as “barbecue alerts”.
“Heatwave warnings are welcomed as barbecue alerts, but they threaten health, wellbeing and productivity,” Ms Creagh said.
Ms Creagh has called on the Government to do more to warn the public of the health risks of heatwaves, demanding Ministers to “stop playing pass the parcel” with local councils and the NHS and take action to ensure homes, hospitals, care homes, offices, cities, water supplies and transport networks can cope with rising temperatures.
There are no regulations on maximum workplace or classroom temperatures, only 50 per cent of UK motorways and major roads are surfaced with material that is most resilient to the temperatures the UK is increasingly experiencing, and efforts to stop cities overheating is not included in local or national planning.
“The Government must stop playing pass the parcel with local councils and the NHS and develop a strategy to protect our ageing population from this increasing risk,” Ms Creagh said.
“It must change building regulations and planning policies to ensure homes and transport networks are able to deal with extreme heat, and that local authorities and cities have green spaces and heat-resilient infrastructure,” she added.
A report from the Environmental Audit Committee has warned that heat-related deaths are set to treble by mid-century unless the Government takes action to tackle the dangers of soaring summer temperatures.
More than 2,000 people died in just 10 days in 2003 when a heatwave pushed temperatures to as much as 38.5C (101.3F), and the Met Office warns that hot spells of a similar intensity will occur every other year by the 2040s.
Without the Government developing a strategy to protect vulnerable people, such as the elderly, numbers dying from the heat could rise to 7,000 a year by 2050, the report said.
The report is published as the UK swelters in a prolonged heatwave hitting northern Europe, with scientists warning that climate change is making such heat extremes more likely.
Picture: The sun rises behind the Liverpool skyline from Woodside ferry terminal across the River Mersey. Temperatures are expected to hit 35C today as the heatwave continues across the UK. (Peter Byrne/PA).