Changes in climate 'may cut hospital admissions'

Global climate change could cut hospital admissions by up to two million days by 2050 and cut winter deaths by 20,000, according to a Department of Health study published today.

The report into the impact of warmer temperatures, drawn up to assess the NHS's ability to cope with the changes, also found that they could lead to thinner blood that would bring health benefits.

However, the global warming would bring with it a rise in skin cancers, heat stroke and food-poisoning. Heat-related deaths could rise by 2,000 a year and skin cancer could hit up to 30,000 more people a year.

Other downsides to hotter climes in the UK would be malaria-carrying mosquitoes and 2,000 more cases of cataracts. Several thousand extra deaths would occur in the summer as a result of air pollutants.

The study, which is the final version of a draft published last year, will state that the unprecedented rate of climate change "may bring significant risks for human health".

The report comes as the Met Office announced yesterday that 2002 could be the hottest year on record.