Health "weather forecasts" designed to give early warnings of
increases in illness are being tested at five sites around England.
The comprehensive forecasts are being drawn up by Oxfordshire GP Dr William
Bird, along with the Meteorological Office, Oxford University and the Public
Health Laboratory Service.
It is being tested at hospitals in Leeds, Wolverhampton, Reading, Plymouth
and north London.
Weather forecasts already include information on ultraviolet sunlight
radiation, pollen counts and warnings of freezing temperatures. But the new
forecasts are designed to give an accurate prediction of likely extra strain on
the system from weather that can lead to increases in illnesses, such as
respiratory or flu.
Myocardial infarction and strokes, can be clearly linked to very cold snaps,
and snow often results in an increase in broken bones, not after the actual
snowfall, but during the freeze several days later.
A Met Office spokesman said, "We hope to predict demand on NHS bodies,
particularly doctor’s surgeries. When temperatures reach a certain point, you
can predict quite accurately the demand you get from certain ailments."