ILLNESSES caused by cold homes are costing Wiganers thousands of pounds a report by Age UK suggests.
The charity says thousands of older people are dying prematurely due to the health effects of living in the cold.
Each year in England and Wales there are about 27,000 extra deaths each winter, mostly among older people.
Age UK has urged the government and local authorities to help improve energy-saving measures in homes in a bid to reduce winter deaths
Dr Tim Dalton, local GP and Chair of Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (WBCCG) said: “Cold weather can increase heart rate and blood pressure as your body tries to keep itself warm. The chances of a blood clot also increases. So everyone must take care and keep warm during cold weather.”
The root of the problem is poorly insulated homes and the increases in energy bills in recent years, making older people cut back on heating to save money, Age UK says.
“It is an absolute scandal that tens of thousands of older people will become ill or die this winter because they are unable to keep warm,” said Michelle Mitchell, of Age UK.
“Not only is this resulting in an incalculable human cost, but the NHS is spending more than a billion pounds on treating the casualties of cold every year.”
The warning comes as the MP for Makerfield, Yvonne Fovargue, is urging Wiganers to get help with their fuel bills after research suggests there are some 6,400 homes in her constituency alone who are entitled to financial help with their energy bills.
New research reveals that around 6,400 households in Makerfield are entitled to help with their energy costs Ms Fovargue is encouraging people to call a free helpline to find out about the assistance available. Nationally, more than one in ten UK households are eligible for help.
The Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99) is a free, impartial and confidential service that connects people and families on low incomes and those in poor health with support which is worth an average of £160. The help available includes grants for insulation, new boilers, discount and rebate schemes.
Yvonne Fovargue MP said: “Anyone who is concerned about staying warm should call the Home Heat Helpline. I would ask people to look out for neighbours, friends or relatives who may be in difficulty and make sure that they are aware of the Helpline.”