GPs urged to prepare for summer heatwaves

GPs should identify people at risk of heat-related illness and give them advice on how to stay cool ahead of possible heatwaves this summer, Public Health England guidance recommends.

Heatwave warning: older patients at risk (Photo: iStock)
Heatwave warning: older patients at risk (Photo: iStock)

Public Health England (PHE) has urged healthcare professionals to prepare for the ‘heat-health watch system’, which operates between 1 June and 15 September in England.

‘Heatwaves can happen with little warning and illness and death can occur within the first couple of days, so it is best to make the following preparations before high temperatures are forecast,’ the report says.

Heatwaves can affect older people, especially if they are socially isolated, those with chronic and severe illness, and the very young.

GP heatwave plan

Respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of death as a result of high temperatures.

Doctors should make sure they have read the Heatwave Plan, and make sure high-risk patients know how to prevent heat-related illness and are aware of red-flag symptoms.

GPs may want to consider changing medication that affects a patient’s renal function or ability to sweat, such as anticholinergics, vasoconstrictors, and diurectics, the report suggests.

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