Letter: Cold weather pay

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Sir: The fact that the Government has rejected the call for cold weather payments to be triggered by taking into account the additional chilling effect of the wind (report, 1 November) fills me, as I am sure it does every medical practitioner in the country, with a mixture of anger and depression.

I practise in a rural area, in one of England's milder counties, and yet already I have seen the first two cases of hypothermia of the season. Multiplied over the country, the cost of these cases must be considerable. It is a common misconception that the treatment (of those who do not expire) consists only of re-warming. Very often hypothermia results in other illnesses, for example pneumonia or stroke, and the length of stay of such patients in hospital is frequently two weeks or more. Add to this the cost of the additional burden to social services following the patient's discharge.

The saving, by not making this allowance for wind chill, is in the order of pounds 2m to pounds 3m. It is incredible to behold the lack of insight on the part of the Government as to how much money this tiny expenditure would undoubtedly save.

Dr DAVID COCKSHOOT

Frome, Somerset

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