Avoidable illnesses ‘caused by poor homes’ costing Yorkshire health trusts £10million each per year

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Health trusts across the region are wasting more than £27,000 a day on treating patients with health problems caused by living in cold housing, a charity has warned.

Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) claims cold homes are a “public health emergency” after figures from the Office for National Statistics showed 4,100 people in Yorkshire died needlessly due to the cold in 2014/15.

It is estimated that more than 38,000 Leeds households are in fuel poverty – more than one in 10 – as every English health trust spends on average £10million per year on treating patients with conditions caused or worsened by cold homes.

Jenny Saunders, NEA chief executive, has called on health and wellbeing boards nationally to include guidance about reducing excess winter deaths in their local health strategies – as only half do at present.

She said: “Cold homes are a public health emergency and are dramatically reducing life chances for vulnerable people.

“As well as it being completely unacceptable that in the 21st Century people are still becoming ill and dying needlessly because they live in cold homes, treating health-related conditions is also placing a shocking strain on the public purse.”

Evidence suggests that living in poor housing – such as with damp and mould – can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and respiratory problems.

Figures released in November showed there were about 43,900 excess deaths in England and Wales the previous winter, the highest number since 1999.

The NEA also urged Government to “significantly increase investment” to help the sick and vulnerable in fuel poverty.