A joint report by the DoH and the Health Protection Agency says that there is a one in four chance of a severe heatwave causing average temperatures to reach 27°C in the south east of England for nine days at some point in the decade from 2007.
Estimates based on mortality in previous heatwaves show that such soaring temperatures would kill just over 3,000 people immediately, contributing to a total of 6,353 heat-related deaths over the year UK-wide.
However, the deaths are likely to be more than offset by a fall in the number of deaths from cold weather, the report says.
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