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Health & Climate

Key Issues (Updated October 2016) 

  • The global climate is changing and this is most likely as a result of greenhouse gas pollution associated with human activities.  Changes in the climate have profound implications for health and future health inequalities. 
  • Fourteen of the sixteen warmest years on record have occurred since 2000.
  • 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.
  • Several population groups will be affected including; residents experiencing multiple deprivation, older people, young children, people suffering from Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) or respiratory illnesses, those at risk of thermal illness and residents with poor mental health.
  • Wirral has:
    • An older (65+ and 85+) population that will increase by 2028.
    • More Wards in the most deprived quintile than the England average
    • 13.1% of the working age population are claiming out-of-work-benefits.
    • A 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).
    • Wirral is significantly higher than England for emergency admissions for asthma with an estimated undiagnosed population of approximately 9,000.
    • A higher incidence rate per 100,000 of malignant melanoma compared to the North West and England.
    • Significantly worse than expected prevalence of diagnosed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD). There are approx 8,000 residents recorded as having COPD and potentially 6,500 undiagnosed sufferers.
    • Higher CVD mortality in Wirral’s areas of deprivation.
  • Warmer Winters will reduce the risk of cold related illnesses such as seasonal flu and respiratory illnesses.
  • 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, susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, gastro-intestinal illness, food poisoning, contaminated water and have a detrimental impact on mental health.
  • There are a number of areas within Wirral that are at increased risk of flooding.
  • National Government policy suggests increased adaptation will secure the most benefits for a range of vulnerable groups and places.
  • The Joseph Rowntree Foundation recommends that Local Authorities should develop clearer local climate resilience strategies and actions, along with building community capacity and skills.
  • A Wirral Council Section 19 Flood Investigation report recommended that communications and contingency planning need to be improved as does community resilience.
  • The Severe Weather Impact Monitoring System from Climate UK has been recommended to Wirral Council, this measures the cost of severe weather events.

Current Section (October 2016)

Previous Sections 

Other relevant information

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  (July 2015)
“Climate change is a route through which deprivation can be worsened.”

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 (eg 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. 

Useful Links
Climate Change Northwest 
Cool Wirral 
Environment Agency 
Department of Energy and Climate Change  

Environmental Change Institute 
Global Food Security 
Sustainable Development Unit (NHS and PHE) 

Key information sources for you to consider:
Health and social care outcomes frameworks (Collection)
Public Health England Data and Knowledge Gateway
NHS Digital
Child and Maternal Health