As a result of global warming, many countries, including the UK, are experiencing increasing periods of hot weather, or heatwaves. These are a risk to public health, as high temperatures can lead to an increase in mortality and morbidity, particularly among vulnerable people. For example, the heatwave in 2003 led to an extra 2,000 deaths in the UK.
The Heatwave Plan for England (HWP) was developed as a result of that heatwave. The HWP aims to ‘prepare for, alert people to, and prevent major avoidable effects on health during periods of severe heat in England' (Public Health England 2015). It includes a heat-health alert system and provides advice and guidance on the dangers of hot weather to the public and to health and social care agencies. However, there was little information available on the effectiveness of the HWP and how it was implemented locally, particularly at the frontline of health and social care.
PIRU was asked by the Department of Health & Social Care and Public Health England to carry out an independent evaluation of the HWP so that it may be improved in future years.