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Climate & Health

Key findings (Published October 2018) 

  • The global climate is changing driven by a rise in global temperatures due to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is principally as a result of pollution associated with burning fossil fuels for heat power and transport

  • National Government policy suggests better adaptation will secure the most benefits for a range of vulnerable groups and places. Those who provide care for vulnerable groups have a role in limiting impacts

  • Fifteen of the seventeen warmest years on record have occurred since 2000

  • Changes in the climate have profound implications for health and future health inequalities globally and locally

  • Wirral’s demographics suggest certain population groups could be more susceptible to climate change events and at greater risk of the subsequent impacts and negative outcomes on health and other aspects

  • Wirral groups most susceptible to climate impacts on their health are:

Residents experiencing multiple deprivation
- Wirral has more Wards in the most deprived quintile than the England average
- 1% of the working age population are claiming out-of-work-benefit

People suffering from Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
- Higher CVD mortality in Wirral’s areas of deprivation

Older people
- Wirral has an older (65+ and 85+) population that will increase by 2038

Residents with poor mental health
- higher prevalence of severe mental illness compared with the North West and England average which is the main reason for claiming Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)

Respiratory illnesses
- Significantly worse than expected prevalence of diagnosed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)
- There are approximately 8,000 residents recorded as having COPD and potentially 6,500 undiagnosed sufferers

Those at risk of thermal illness
- Wirral has a higher incidence rate per 100,000 for malignant melanoma compared to the North West and England

Young children
- Wirral is significantly higher than England for emergency admissions for asthma with an estimated undiagnosed population of approximately 9,000

  • Hotter, drier summers will increase the risk of CVD, heat stroke, respiratory illness, and food poisoning and gastrointestinal diseases and may exacerbate mental health problems

  • Storms and flooding may lead to shocks within local food production, injuries, death, and susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, gastro-intestinal illness, food poisoning, and contaminated water and have a detrimental impact on mental health

  • Warmer winters will reduce the risk of cold related illnesses such as seasonal flu and respiratory illnesses. There are a number of areas within Wirral that are at increased risk of flooding

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Further information

Challenges and opportunities in planetary health for primary care providers - The Lancet Planetary Health (2018)
Primary care providers (PCPs) are trusted to provide a person-centred, comprehensive, and integrated response to health challenges. This article discusses the fact that through preventive health measures, PCPs also have a responsibility to strengthen the resilience of the communities they serve. Many environmental alterations, including climate change, air pollution, biodiversity loss, freshwater depletion, land use change, and exposures to toxic chemicals, threaten the advances in human health experienced in the past decades. PCPs can be instrumental in helping to address some of the causes and consequences of these environmental alterations.

Heatwave Plan for England 2018 (includes new resources)
The Heatwave Plan for England (PHE, 2018) is a plan intended to protect the population from heat-related harm to health. It aims to prepare for, alert people to, and prevent, the major avoidable effects on health during periods of severe heat in England.

Cold weather plan (CWP) for England (October 2015)
Includes plan and evidence summary on planning to protect health in cold weather. This plan is valid from October 2015 until further notice. (Remains operable until further notice)

Climate Just Map Tool
The Climate Just Map Tool shows the geography of England’s vulnerability to climate change at a neighbourhood scale. Its purpose is to support local planning and responses to a changing climate.

  • It has been developed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) in partnership with Climate UK, the Environment Agency and Manchester University. It forms part of the Climate Just online portal – containing a range of resources to support local groups understand and integrate a socially-just approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation 

  • The mapping tool can be used to overlay various climate change impacts (flood risk, heat risk) with a range of socio- spatial vulnerabilities (e.g. age, income, social isolation) at the neighbourhood scale

  • This will be relevant not just to those working in environmental or sustainability units, but also those in social welfare, housing, healthcare, spatial planning and community engagement. It is relevant for a wide range of local authorities; in both urban and rural areas, and those with flood management and/or coastal management responsibilities 


Wirral’s Climate Change Strategy (2015)
Wirral’s Climate Change Strategy otherwise known as 'Cool' is designed to encourage and co-ordinate widespread local climate-related action and so boost its impact. It was developed by Wirral’s Climate Change Group, in consultation with the public, and covers the period 2014 to 2019.

Under the weather: improving health, wellbeing and resilience in a changing climate (March 2015) NHS Sustainable Development Unit

This toolkit is to assist health and wellbeing boards to protect people, services and communities from the impacts of climate change. The document also highlights how joint strategic needs assessments and joint health and wellbeing strategies can be used to achieve these aims.

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