Better information sharing between clinicians in acute and primary care is vital to reducing winter deaths, senior nurses have warned.
Speaking at the launch of his final annual report as CMO, Sir Liam said: “England’s annual winter death toll averages over 30,000 people.
“We have a comprehensive and effective national heatwave plan that is put into place during excessively hot weather. If a comparable national cold weather plan were to be developed, it could save thousands of lives each year,” he said.
Vital to its success would be the identification of patients deemed at increased risk of harm during cold weather, such as those with cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
Imperial College Healthcare Trust director of nursing Janice Sigsworth said identifying patients vulnerable to cold weather and ensuring they have “comprehensive plans” in place could help stop “their first point of call being a hospital”.
But she said that this would mean primary and acute care, and health and social care, working together and sharing information.
“If we had integrated electronic records, or records that go with the patient, we’d know immediately what the care plan was, and what the trigger points were. It is a question of working together in a more joined up way,” she told Nursing Times.
Jane Scullion, respiratory nurse consultant at University Hospitals of Leicester Trust, said: “We have the long term conditions register in primary care so there are ways of identifying vulnerable people, but we need to share databases. One of the major problems has always been that primary and secondary care don’t talk to each other.”