UK weather forecast met office: Heatwave Cobra meeting needed over NHS crisis, ministers urged

UK weather: The latest Met Office forecast

Ministers have been urged to convene a second emergency Cobra meeting in three days to tackle how to protect an NHS “operating at the brink” during this week’s searing heatwave.

The call from the Liberal Democrats came as the Met Office extended its amber alert for extreme heat for a further 24 hours until midnight next Tuesday, warning that the severe conditions will likely cause serious illness and endanger lives.

The national forecaster now believes there is a one in five chance that Britain could record its hottest ever temperature over that period, with some meteorological models even indicating the extreme heat could hit a scorching 40C.

Officials have not ruled out that the first-ever national heatwave emergency could be declared, with forecasters warning the extreme conditions mean health impacts could be felt by those not typically deemed vulnerable to heat.

The relentlessly hot weather has left the NHS struggling to cope, with all 10 of England’s ambulance services at the highest alert level, while health leaders warn that “ill-equipped” hospital buildings are struggling to store medicines correctly.

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Ministers urged to convene second Cobra meeting to tackle heatwave pressure on NHS

Ministers have been urged to convene a Cobra meeting today to tackle how to protect the NHS from the extreme heat.

Speaking in the Commons, Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Daisy Cooper called for what would mark the second emergency meeting over weather conditions in three days, which she said was necessary “to protect patients and paramedics who are really operating at the brink”.

Health minister Maria Caulfield said that demand for the health service was at “the sort of rates we would normally see in winter”, adding: “We have got a heatwave plan which was published earlier this year, we are confident and working with all NHS trusts to make sure that they have got the support that they need and all the ambulance trusts too.”

Ms Caulfield later added: “These are the sort of pressures we would normally expect to see in winter and we’re seeing them in the summer months, which is usually their down time and it’s extremely concerning for the months ahead as we do head into winter.

The minister said she was meeting with all 11 ambulance trusts – who are each currently at their highest alert level – in the coming days.

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London mayor activates severe weather plan to support rough sleepers

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has triggered a severe weather emergency response – typically triggered by freezing temperatures – in the capital to support rough sleepers struggling to stay safe during the heatwave.

City Hall has written to all London boroughs and rough sleeping services to ask them to conduct welfare checks on vulnerable people and provide sunscreen, water and information about staying cool and safe in the high temperatures.

“This ongoing heatwave could be dangerous for anyone, but for people sleeping rough, there are additional risks,” Mr Khan said.

“Across the capital, we are taking action to assist those forced to sleep rough in these extremely high temperatures, by increasing welfare checks, providing plenty of water and sunscreen, and ensuring people sleeping rough know where to access cool spaces and water fountains.”

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Here are some images from photojournalists of Lindley Wood reservoir, near Otley, during the hot weather today:

(REUTERS/Lee Smith)

(REUTERS/Lee Smith)

(REUTERS/Lee Smith)

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What is a national heatwave emergency and what might that look like?

Government officials are meeting regularly to assess the impact of the current heat, and have not ruled out that the first-ever national heatwave emergency could be declared.

Our climate correspondent Saphora Smith takes a look at what we might expect if a national emergency were to be called:

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Londoners told to limit water consumption to prevent shortages

Thames Water has urged residents in London to limit their water consumption where possible in order to prevent shortages.

“During spells of hot weather, water usage can often rocket, with hoses and sprinklers watering gardens and paddling pools filled,” said Andrew Tucker, the utility firm’s water demand reduction manager. “That makes it even more important to be mindful of water usage to ensure there’s enough to go around for everyone.”

“While we’re not currently expecting to introduce restrictions on water use this summer, it’s important that households remain responsible with their usage and help us to limit the pressure on our resources.”

Thames Water said that more than 271,000 customers are listed on the priority services register who would struggle to get by should their home’s water supply be disrupted.

The firm is advising people to take shorter showers, reduce the use of garden hoses, and turn taps off when brushing your teeth.

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Event: Expert panel to discuss the true scale of the NHS crisis

The current heatwave is piling pressure on an NHS already in crisis.

The Independent is hosting a free virtual event in which a panel of experts will discuss the way ahead, at 6:30pm this evening.

Our health correspondent Rebecca Thomas will host the panel including: our senior news correspondent Samuel Lovett; Sarah Tilsed, head of patient partnership at the Patients Association; Dr Adrian Boyle, an emergency consultant and the next president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine; and Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at NHS Confederation.

You can get your tickets here:

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Met Office revises prediction of record-breaking heat from 30% chance to 20%

Our climate correspondent Saphora Smith reports:

The Met Office has now said they believe it’s less likely that the UK will record it’s highest temperature ever on Sunday.

A meteorologist for the Met Office told The Independent they had revised their prediction down to about a one in five chance that temperatures will surpass the 38.7 degree 2019 record.

They still forecast the temperatures to reach the mid to high 30s, however.

The new forecast is down from an estimate on Monday that the chance of the record being broken was 30 per cent.

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Looming heat a result of hot air currently over France

The extreme heat on its way this weekend is due to hot air flowing to the UK from the continent.

“What happens as we get into the weekend, the high pressure becomes centred to the east of the UK and that allow a southerly flow of air to drag up, the very warm air that’s over France at the moment, and drag it northwards to the UK over the weekend, perhaps more so on Sunday and into Monday,” said Met Office forecaster Matthew Box.

Heatwaves have been made hotter, longer and more frequent by climate change, and experts have warned of the need to adapt homes and cities in the UK for a future of more intense summer heat.

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Government urged to introduce maximum legal working temperature

The government has been urged to introduce a maximum working temperature to help protect employees from tiredness, infections, heat stroke and death.

A total of 37 MPs have signed an early day motion (EDM), tabled in the House of Commons, to call for a limit of 30C in most workplaces or 27C for those doing strenuous work to be guaranteed in law.

Employers would have a legal duty to introduce “effective control measures”, such as installing ventilation or moving staff away from windows and sources of heat, under the proposals.

EDMs allow MPs to express an opinion, publicise a cause or support a position. It is rare for EDMs to be debated.

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In pictures: Southeast England doused in heat

Here are some images illustrating the conditions in the southeast yesterday:

A man carries a fan as he walks in London

(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

Cracked earth is seen as hot weather continues, in Parliament Square

(REUTERS/Toby Melville )

A train passes through heat haze on a railway line near Ashford in Kent

(Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

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