Sun | Oct 2, 2022

UK could face public health ‘crisis’ from energy bill hike

Published:Friday | August 19, 2022 | 11:51 AM
Storage tanks are shown at a refinery in Detroit, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

LONDON (AP) — Britain's public health leaders appealed to the government on Friday to urgently tackle soaring energy prices, warning that the steep rise in household bills will lead to more people falling sick and increase the number of annual deaths linked with cold homes.

In a letter sent to government officials, the National Health Service Confederation said surging costs mean many people will have to choose between skipping meals to heat their homes or living in cold and damp conditions this winter.

The group's chief executive Matthew Taylor said health leaders took the step to make an “unprecedented intervention” and write to the government because the United Kingdom was “facing a humanitarian crisis” due to the public health risks linked to rising fuel costs.

The average UK household fuel bill has risen more than 50% so far in 2022 as Russia's war in Ukraine squeezes global oil and natural gas supplies.

A further increase is due in October when the average bill is forecast to hit 3,500 pounds ($4,300) a year.

Official figures this week showed that UK inflation hit a new 40-year high of 10.1% in July.

Taylor said the inability to heat homes and afford food will “lead to outbreaks of illness and sickness around the country and widen health inequalities, worsen children's life chances, and leave an indelible scar on local communities.”

He warned that this will compound pressure on hospitals and public health services, which are already under stress and are bracing for a difficult winter.

“Health leaders are clear that, unless urgent action is taken by the government, this will cause a public health emergency,” he said.

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