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Older people urged to take extra care as cold snap hits

The RCN, NHS England and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine have encouraged vulnerable groups to stay warm and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions

Nursing and medical leaders are urging older people to look after themselves as the cold snap takes hold.


With bitterly cold weather expected across the UK, healthcare leaders are urging older
people to stay warm and stock up on necessary medication. Picture: Neil O’Connor

The RCN, NHS England and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine have encouraged vulnerable groups to stay warm and well and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

Some nurses across the country are facing difficult conditions getting to work as the week begins, with bitterly cold weather sweeping in from Russia.

Travel disruption

Snow is falling across the UK, and the wind chill is expected to create conditions that feel like -15°C in some areas.

Yellow and amber weather warnings for snow are in place for Monday and Tuesday, covering southern and eastern England before extending to cover the Midlands, Scotland and Wales.

Some train services will be halted on Monday night in south east England, and there are warnings that road and air travellers could face severe disruption.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘We know that as temperatures drop, older people and those with existing health conditions become vulnerable to a number of illnesses, some of which can be dangerous. All of us can help by checking up on elderly neighbours and family members and making sure they’re well and warm enough.’

Evidence shows that the risk of heart attack, stroke and serious breathing problems increases as temperatures drop.

Cold weather advice

Healthcare professionals urge older people to stay well by:

  • Keeping warm both indoors and out and heating their homes to at least 18°C.
  • Stocking up on medicines over the next few days, in case they cannot leave their homes due to adverse weather conditions.
  • Taking action early if they become unwell by visiting NHS Choices for information or visiting their local pharmacist for advice.

Last year there were 400,000 additional emergency department attendances between November and February, and almost 21% more deaths during the winter months.


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