Lack of answers for heatwave absencesWith the BBC reporting temperatures set to rise as high as 32C (90F) today, and the Met Office saying London, the east and south-east of England will be the hottest areas, the heatwave has evidently arrived.

Although for the majority this is good news, NHS staff have been warned to prepare for a surge of elderly and ill patients suffering from the heat, with potential “cool rooms” being instigated in hospitals and cold drinks distributed as part of a string of measures set down in the Government’s official heatwave plan.

The Government’s heatwave guidelines do not however advise on the resulting increased absences across the board. Unwarranted absences as a result of the weather could cost a whopping £187m a day to the economy. Concern has been raised about the health of the vulnerable; the elderly, the young, those in ill health and even pets, but the fit and seemingly healthy incurring sickness absence days have been given little notice.

Age Concern highlighted the difficulty older people experience coping with the heat, especially when on medication. And the Department of Health advised against people with respiratory problems going out during the hottest part of the day. The Government’s heatwave plan may in part seem obvious common sense, such as drinking lots of cold fluids, but could be easily overlooked when travelling for example, and could prove fatal for those in weak health.

However, highlighted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, the rise in absence of those who may not be vulnerable and just faking illness could result in a £162m worth loss in productivity and £15m in absence costs.