National heatwave plan aims to help clinicians anticipate risks to health

Healthcare workers should identify patients at increased risk during very hot weather, Public Health England’s heatwave plan states. 

The 2015 plan calls on staff to follow a heatwave and summer preparedness programme from today until September 15 that is designed to protect the public and reduce harm from severe heat or a heatwave. 

Care homes and hospitals should create cool rooms or areas, which can be maintained below 26 degrees centigrade and install thermometers where vulnerable patients spend sustained periods of time, the document urges.

At-risk groups include older people, the very young and people with pre-existing medical conditions. The plan includes recommendations for health and social care staff in all settings to raise awareness of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them. 

Healthcare professionals should consider whether changes to care plans should be made in the event of a heatwave, such as ensuring formal or informal care givers make daily visits to those living alone. 

The plan has recommendations for health and social care commissioners, the community and voluntary sector and national organisations such as NHS England. 

Key public health messages include keeping out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, checking on older or sick neighbours, family or friends every day, and seeking medical attention if heat cramps last longer than one hour. 

Click here to read the full plan.