According to Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, there is a link between rising energy costs and the 10% increase in A&E patients with circulatory and respiratory problems over the past three years.
In a speech focused on the NHS, Burnham blamed the Conservative Party for the current situation: “These new figures show for the first time the effect on A&E of the cost-of-living crisis and rising energy bills.
“This is the tragic human cost of David Cameron’s failure to stand up to the energy companies.”
‘Labour’s promise to freeze energy bills will end the scandal of cold homes’
Burnham added: “A&E today is becoming the last resort for millions of people who are struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis and cuts to community services. This explains why the current financial year is set to be the worst in A&E for at least a decade.
“NHS cuts… are pushing people needlessly to A&E. This has trapped the NHS in a vicious circle, with hospitals paying huge sums to staff agencies for short-term cover.
“Only Labour’s promise to freeze energy bills will end the scandal of cold homes and protect older people from poor health.”
DECC: Figures linked to prolonged winters
A spokesperson for the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said: “Last winter had particularly long periods of cold weather, and all across Europe we saw increased cases of flu and respiratory conditions.
“This Government is working to help vulnerable people with their energy bills.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s spokeswoman retorted that the figures were down to an increasing number of elderly people in need of care.
Each of the big six suppliers, and many independent suppliers, put up their prices this winter. The increases will be curbed by government led cuts, but the latter will not wipe out the rises. The average household will end up paying about £50 more on gas and electricity this year.