The UKHSA has recorded 2,803 excess deaths among over-65s during the heat waves that took place this summer in England.
The number, which excludes Covid deaths, is ‘the highest excess mortality figure during heat-periods observed since the introduction of the Heatwave plan for England in 2004’, UKHSA said.
Parts of England recorded temperatures over 40C in July for the first time ever.
For the three-day period between 17-20 July when temperatures were at their highest, UKHSA noted 1,012 excess deaths among over-65s, with the longer heat period of 8-17 August seeing another 1,458.
UKHSA chief scientific officer Isabel Oliver said: ‘These estimates show clearly that high temperatures can lead to premature death for those who are vulnerable. Higher excess deaths occurred during the hottest days this year and a warming climate means we must adapt to living safely with hotter summers in the future.
‘Prolonged periods of hot weather are a particular risk for elderly people, those with heart and lung conditions or people who are unable to keep themselves cool such as people with learning disabilities and Alzheimer’s disease.’
However, Office for National Statistics head of mortality analysis Sarah Caul cautioned that ‘spikes around the hottest days were followed by periods of below average mortality’.
She said: ‘This is likely to be a result of short-term mortality displacement, especially among older age groups, where people died a few days or weeks earlier than expected.’
However, the deaths exclude those recorded ‘with Covid’, and as England entered the hottest period in July one-in-19 people were estimated to have Covid.