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Health emergencies

Climate change

The 2023 Climate Change Committee Progress in adapting to climate change report advised that the 'impacts from extreme weather in the UK over the last year highlight the urgency of adapting to climate change. The record-breaking temperatures seen in summer 2022 brought unprecedented numbers of heat-related deaths, wildfire incidents and significant infrastructure disruption.'

With changes to the UK climate and weather events linked to climate change, it is projected that the UK will see:

  • warmer and wetter winters
  • hotter and drier summers
  • more frequent and intense weather extremes

Heatwaves are now 30 times more likely to happen due to climate change and heavy rainfall is also more likely. Since 1998, the UK has seen six of the ten wettest years on record.

Get more information on climate change and the health impacts of weather events:

Adverse weather

Adverse Weather and Health Plan

The Adverse Weather and Health Plan aims to protect individuals and communities from the health effects of adverse weather and to build community resilience. The Plan brings together and builds on the previous Heatwave Plan for England and the Cold Weather Plan for England.

Seasonal preparedness

General preparedness advice and weather warnings are available from the pages below:

Cold weather

Cold weather health watch system operates in England from the 1 November to 31 March every year, in association with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Further advice, including how to stay well in cold weather, is available below:


Flooding presents a number of risks to health. Advice, including how to clean your home safely after a flood, is available from sites below:


The Met Office runs a Heat Health Watch from 1 June to 15 September each year in association with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Although many of us enjoy being out in the sun during the summer it is important to be properly prepared to prevent ill-health. Those at most risk during a heatwave include:

  • babies and young children
  • older people
  • people with breathing or heart problems

Guidance for coping with a heatwave is available below:


Health impacts associated with drought include consequences are related to dehydration, increase of transmission of infectious diseases and poorer mental health. Information on the potential health impacts of drought in England and the measures that people can take to stay healthy during these events is available in the guidance below:


Our role during a pandemic will include:

  • supporting the health professionals in their response to the pandemic
  • maintaining our own critical services
  • protecting staff from an increased risk of exposure during the performance of their role

Information and advice for the public on public health is available from the sites below:

Bird flu

If you suspect bird flu in poultry or other captive birds, you must report it immediately by calling 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence. Bird flu is a notifiable disease in poultry and other captive birds. If you do not report it, you’re breaking the law.

If you keep poultry, whether commercially on a farm, or as pets in your garden, or rearing game birds, you should keep a close watch on them for signs of disease, and maintain good biosecurity at all times.

Advice and the latest situation on Bird Flu (Avian Flu) is available on the GOV.UK Avian Influenza (bird flu) pages.

If you find dead wild waterfowl waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them through either of the options below:

Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.