Humanitarian crisis looms over energy price rises

NHS: will astronomical energy price rises create health problems – physical and mental – that could overwhelm the health service in the coming winter?

NHS leaders have warned that the rising cost of energy bills may trigger a humanitarian crisis that their organisation will be left to handle, if the government doesn’t do more to help.

The vertiginous rise in the price of energy may leave millions of people forced to choose between heating their homes and having enough food to eat – and this is likely to have consequences for their health, the NHS Confederation said.

Cold homes are already linked to 10,000 deaths per year; cold conditions can lead to a rise in respiratory conditions, and in older people can also increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and falls.

This winter, those problems would increase the strain on the NHS, whose bosses are already expecting to have to cope with flu, norovirus and Covid outbreaks.

And there would also be a major impact on mental health and well-being.

The government has protested that it is taking action over energy prices and that it is supporting the NHS.

But the payments of £400 to households in England, Scotland and Wales, rising to £1,200 for the poorest, were announced before it was predicted that energy costs may rise to around £4,200 per year.

The government also said it was working with the NHS to make sure it can accommodate winter pressures, including increasing the number of hospital beds available and recruiting staff from foreign countries.

No further action is to be taken until the new prime minister – either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss – is sworn in next month.

Considering the warning from the NHS Confederation, is the current offer too little? And will any extra help arrive too late?

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