An Independent investigation has revealed the UK’s NHS is on the verge of losing its ability to control heat levels in its wards, even though its population is ageing and has become more diverse.
Our findings, based on interviews with more than a thousand people in England, Scotland and Wales, reveal that a large proportion of people in the country do not know where their homes are, how much they can heat themselves, or how much water they need to drink.
In fact, almost half of the people surveyed do not have a place to put their water and food, and a quarter don’t know where to park their car.
More than half of those surveyed, as well as the most vulnerable, did not even know how to boil their own water.
They were forced to rely on tap water that came from the tap, which they had to buy at a time when demand for it was declining.
It is estimated that the average temperature of the UK in 2020 was 30 degrees Celsius, well above the average of 17.3 degrees in 2015.
The NHS, which has an average temperature rating of 27 degrees, is in the process of reducing its heat supply to the rest of the country.
But the UK is not alone in failing to keep its temperature safe, and the new study finds that other countries are failing to deliver the same level of heat protection.
The findings, published in the medical journal BMJ Open, also reveal that there is a “dramatic increase” in heat-related deaths across the world in the last 10 years.
“We were surprised to find that the vast majority of the countries we surveyed have not taken action to reduce the impact of heat stress on patients,” said Dr Paul Gorman, the lead author of the report.
In 2015, the UK experienced its hottest year on record, with temperatures soaring to 37.4 degrees.
Yet, despite the increase in heat, there was not enough heat to be saved.
According to the report, the NHS has lost control of its own heat control systems and the proportion of its wards that could be kept warm has been declining steadily since the 1970s.
Almost half of people surveyed did not know how much heat they needed to drink, and were forced with little knowledge to use tap water, which was not always clean.
They had to pay more than £10 a day to get clean water.
As a result, they were more likely to be exposed to heat-trapping gases such as carbon monoxide and particulate matter, which can lead to heart and lung disease.
But even more worrying is the fact that some people, including older people and children, were more susceptible to heat stress, according to Dr Gorman.
Dr Gorman and his colleagues also found that there were widespread and persistent failures to protect people from the effects of heat, and in some cases to treat people at all.
Most people who had been tested for heat stress were not diagnosed or treated.
“Heat stress has a very strong impact on people’s health,” Dr Golfan said.
Some of the worst-affected areas are in areas where the NHS and the local authority, or the local council, have failed to take action to manage heat, or where their heat systems have failed.
“It’s not surprising that people in these areas are at increased risk of heat-induced illness and death,” Dr Grinnell said.
“In some places, the heat is coming from a much hotter source, and they are still getting heat-sensitive symptoms.”
The report also found there was a “chilling effect” for older people, who are more susceptible than younger people to heat.
Many elderly people are unable to work, so they cannot afford to take their heat to the fridge.
Dr Grannell said: “It is also not surprising to find, that some elderly people have been found to have heat-linked dementia, which is a serious condition that can cause problems in terms of quality of life.”
These people need to have access to heat at all times, but they are also not getting the support they need.
“Professor Richard Wiseman, the chair of health security at the Royal College of Nursing, said that while the health service could try to reduce heat stress and help people with heat-associated illnesses, “there are also important lessons to be learned about how to provide services to people who are vulnerable and can benefit from heat protection.
“Heat-related illness is a leading cause of preventable death, with 1 in 10 deaths from heat-caused illnesses being attributed to the heat, the report found.
This is because most heat-stressed people are poor, older, and people with mental health problems.
A lack of water and a lack of knowledge of how to use a heating system mean many elderly people cannot access safe and effective heat-protection measures.
Heat exhaustion can also be exacerbated by heat stress.
Over half of our survey respondents, including more than