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Webchat with Dan Jarvis MP, Tuesday 26 April, 12.30pm

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BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 22-Apr-16 16:56:35


We’re pleased to announce a webchat with Labour MP Dan Jarvis on Tuesday 26 April at 12.30pm. Dan is currently campaigning on excess winter deaths among older people.

The ONS estimates that 43,900 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2014/15. The majority of excess winter deaths for both sexes occurred amongst those aged 75 and over, with women aged 85 and over having the greatest number of such deaths. (‘Excess winter deaths’ are calculated by comparing the number of deaths between December and March to the average number of deaths in the preceding August - November and the following April - July.) Dan’s aim is to find out why this is happening, and to persuade local authorities and other agencies involved in the care of older people to work together to address any gaps in services.

Before becoming an MP Dan served in the Parachute Regiment and was deployed to Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was in the shadow cabinet during the last Parliament, most recently as shadow minister for justice, and is now on the back benches.

Please do join us on the day to talk about excess winter deaths and the best way to care for older people in our communities - or leave a question here in advance if you can’t make it. And, as ever, do remember our webchat guidelines.


VertigoNun Fri 22-Apr-16 18:26:43

I am not old, I do have chronic health issues which may give insight and explain some of the deaths. Poor GP care.

I had to gain support of an adult services social worker to get my GP to give me a blood test. I was new to the area and have since changed GP. I had a history of low vitamin B and D levels, which are associated with my condition it's not known why. My guess is I don't go out as much as I did when I was more mobile and there are issues with bacteria in our gut affecting absorbance of nutrients.

A full blood test doesn't check for low vitamin levels, the GP has to tick the extra relevant box. I doubt it's expensive to pay for a blood test and vitamin supliments.

Each time I received treatment after low vitamin levels I felt so much better physically and mentally. I realised I hadn't taken care of myself before as low vitamin levels cause depression too.

It's not easy to prepare fresh meals or get to the shops regularly when not in good health so the food you eat may not be as nutritional.

Northernlurker Fri 22-Apr-16 20:12:59

What part do you think fuel poverty has to play ?

GiantYorkiePud Sat 23-Apr-16 16:50:01

Would you consider means testing the fuel allowance (with the limit being reasonable) and opening it up to those claiming disability benefits?
My grandparents don't need it and donate it to charity instead.

GiantYorkiePud Sat 23-Apr-16 16:52:40

Also I'd like his opinion on bringing nhs care into community. Almost all nhs boards are saying they're doing this so ppl are not going to A&E but walk in centres are closing (especially in our area) as are a&e depts. Community services are underfunded.

RomComPhooey Sat 23-Apr-16 21:00:29

Off topic, but - with hindsight - do you regret not standing in the Labour leadership contest?

Needmoresleep Sun 24-Apr-16 08:56:44

Why focus on the winter fuel allowance? Yes it is an easy-to-grasp headline issue, and I can see why older voters will want to retain it, but it is only one of the many day-to-day challenges faced by older people and their carers.

It would be more reassuring to see comprehensive and informed proposals outlining constructive and affordable reform of elderly care.

FWIW I think it is crazy that DM gets winter fuel allowance. But I don't worry as I am assuming it is administratively simpler not to means test, and know the taxman will get it back in the form of IHT. Even crazier would be for her entitlement, and the entitlement of others like her, to be used as some form of political football.

megletthesecond Sun 24-Apr-16 20:19:15

What romcom said. Understandable decision at the time but maybe one day not that I'm tempted to stick a fiver on the 2020 or 2025 GE or anything.

meditrina Mon 25-Apr-16 17:11:18

You said in an interview with the BBC in January this year that you thought the Labour Party still had a mountain to climb.

I'd be interested in a description of the key things that make up that mountain, and your thoughts on what will be needed to make that climb

NicknameUsed Mon 25-Apr-16 17:48:22

I agree with GiantYorkiePud that perhaps the fuel allowance should be means tested.

My concerns are the lack of resources to deal with age related health issues, especially dementia. The lack of funding for support for people with dementia, and places in good care homes is frightening.

NicknameUsed Mon 25-Apr-16 17:48:51

Oh, and keep up the good work. I'm in the constituency next to yours.

RomComPhooey Mon 25-Apr-16 18:03:04

Agree, winter fuel allowance should be means tested. My Dad is a well-heeled pensioner with 2 private pensions and a better standard living than many younger working adults/couples. He gives his to charity, which is commendable but tells you everything you need to know about how poorly targetted this benefit is.

Imgonnatouchthebutt Tue 26-Apr-16 09:37:29

Hi Dan

This is a running question. I'm doing a half marathon in a weeks time, but really want to do a full marathon by my 25th birthday (2 years away arghhhh), what's the best advice you have?

(or what do you listen to on your runs?)

MariscallRoad Tue 26-Apr-16 09:50:35

Hi Mr Jarvis. Thanks for the interest. To warm up: The language we use to stereotype those past some age as 'older' is unacceptable. In my neighbourhood most people work in their 70s! Many-many of that age 'over 60' have skills the younger don't, they pay taxes on self employment, they are independent. Many have been moms in their 40s and men in 60s and have student children in their late 60s/70s! It is so where I live. It is a shame that an ageist negative image has been created about aged. I feel that foremost a change of attitude is required in UK towards the 'older' people and a radical review of how much is stereotyped.

My question: Old people suffer from low temperatures because it causes strokes and heart attacks to those who are at risk and both families and NHS are affected. So temperature inside homes is an issue. Inexpensive insulating materials preventing to an extend heating loss are provided at low cost by some LAs in London such as draught excluders and curtains So can you consider that this can be extended in many more LAs?

BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-Apr-16 10:03:06

Hi everyone,

Thanks for all your questions so far - we've got a few more from Gransnet:

"How do you know when a woman over 85 dies that it is an excess death? I thought statistics had always said that there are more deaths in January to March anyway. Is it not better to persuade the government rather than local authorities? The government is cutting the grants to local authorities so there is not enough money in the pot for them to do anything about it." from durhamjen

"Hello Dan. Many older people are living in poorly heated and poorly insulated homes, putting them at risk.
The coalition government cut back ECO funding (spinning it as "Green Taxes") despite the evidence that investing in home insulation can help prevent premature deaths in the winter and take pressure over the NHS.
I would hope that when we get a Labour government more money can be invested in this. It is a double win as improving energy efficiency is the most cost effective way of reducing carbon emissions.
Are you involved in developing Labour policy in this area? If not, who is? While we await an election is there anything else that can be done by individuals?" from JessM

"Is the number of so-called "excess" deaths falling? For example, is the figure for 2014/15 lower by a significant amount than it was, say, fifty or a hundred years ago? And if so, can this pattern be seen in general with regard to this issue?" from thatbags

"Dan what is your reaction to the report in yesterdays press that the 111 service is causing excess deaths by being slow to respond and giving inaccurate advice and indeed that this has been known about for some time?" from Teetime

"I'm wondering if a lot of elderly people who find it difficult to travel to a surgery stop having the flu jab and it's more difficult these days to get someone to do a house visit to give them the jab." from Tegan


A4Document Tue 26-Apr-16 10:13:30

I'm disappointed that walk-in centres have closed. What options are there, in between waiting 3-4 weeks for a routine GP appointment, and some people going to A&E for things the GP could have treated?

TresDesolee Tue 26-Apr-16 10:52:02

Hi Dan. Is it your argument that local authorities should do more? And if so, who's going to pay for that? Local authorities are on their knees already. Surely social care departments need more money if they're going to look after people better?

BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-Apr-16 10:52:24

One more question from Gransnet:

"Mr Jarvis, Do you think that excess winter deaths could be caused by other factors than just cold homes? Dark evenings and mornings are naturally depressing. People in isolated communities might feel less inclined to go out, so become even more lonely and depressed. Some people are obsessively frugal, even when they have money. Cuts to local services mean that some day centres and libraries have closed and some meals on wheels services have stopped. These were all people who could keep an eye on people. Poorer people tend to live in rented accommodation, which can often be poorly insolated.

Do you think that the current arrangements for winter fuel allowance and the fuel poverty rebates, which electricity companies make, are effective and efficient in targeting those who who need help?" from daphnedill

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-Apr-16 11:05:27

Some questions from Twitter...

From @manfred698: How are you recovering from the marathon?

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-Apr-16 11:28:49

From @PatriciaMcDermott on Twitter: 'I pay £200 per month in fuel payments as an OAP. Barnsley Council also increased CC for OAPS. Why?'

LineyReborn Tue 26-Apr-16 11:40:43

Hello, Dan. I voted Labour in the last election.

What's your view on the Green Deal? Mine is that it was an over-complicated expensive shambles and benefited no older people at all, certainly not in the 85+ age group.

Why do governments design useless crap programmes like this?

AuntieStella Tue 26-Apr-16 11:49:38

Has anyone ever worked out how much it would cost to fully means test?

Compared to cost/savings of setting up a mechanism whereby a) fuel payments are only ever made to those normally resident in UK and b) there is a well publicised scheme for donating it back - either Saga or Age Concern had one, but I don't know how successful it was. People might not put their money where their mouths are unless compelled.

DanJarvisMP Tue 26-Apr-16 11:59:02


andrewb72 Tue 26-Apr-16 12:09:20

Fuel poverty is expanding to younger people and disabled people, with the problems with Barnsley's 0-19 year old strategy do you feel the advice won't get to hard up parents of children or people with disabled children?

DanJarvisMP Tue 26-Apr-16 12:31:07

Hi everyone,

Great to be here. Looking forward to answering questions and hearing people's views about how we reduce excess winter deaths.

This is an issue I've campaigned on for some years, I think many people would be shocked to learn that last winter, 43,000 people died in the UK unnecessarily, as a result of the cold. These deaths were entirely avoidable and today I am keen to hear people's ideas about how we reduce the number of deaths in our country.

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