Better healthcare preparedness for heat waves in Skåne

  • Case studie
  • Health
  • Heat waves
  • Urban planning
  • Buildings

In the future, heat waves may become more frequent and more intense. In Skåne, procedures for the primary healthcare services have now been developed that will apply in anticipation of and during a heat wave.

The Skåne region is forced to adapt to climate change at a faster pace than many other Swedish regions. Among other things, temperatures during the summer months are expected to reach new heights within the coming decades.

In June 2014, the Klimatsamverkan Skåne/Climate Partnership Skåne finalised and released its final report for a contingency plan for heat waves, which subsequent to this has been used as a procedure for dealing with heat waves in the primary healthcare in Skåne. Other county councils and county administrative boards have used the contingency plan as a foundation for their own strategies, and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) sends it out to all Swedish municipalities every summer.

Emergency Planning and Warning Systems for Heat Waves in Skåne

Checklists are included in the contingency plan. Checklists are aimed specifically at the various individuals who are especially affected in some way by a heat wave. Relatives, nurses and doctors, managers, and healthcare professionals each have their own specific checklist.

In addition, general guidelines for response in the event of severely high temperatures, information regarding symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration, and information about which medications can be adversely affected by heat waves, has been made available. In addition to this, there is also a description of the warning system that extends from SMHI, via the emergency services, to the primary healthcare in Skåne.

The contingency plan is activated by that SMHI sends out a Class 1 or Class 2 warning, either “very high temperatures” or “extremely high temperatures.”

Pilot Project and the Medical Platform

The contingency plan was developed via a pilot project during the summer of 2013. Staffanstorp Municipality and the Rosengård neighbourhood in Malmö proved suitable as a test case for the project. Both municipal as well as private healthcare and social care are included. Staffanstorp’s sparsely populated area and Rosengård’s more densely populated area were considered as being useful to obtain a broader study.

Work environment and environmental medicine contributed medical expertise, both before and during the pilot project. Being able to substantiate the guidance and approaches medically in connection with high temperatures has increased the credibility. Furthermore, that social care and nursing staff have been involved throughout the entire project, has meant that the emergency preparedness plan has a practical anchorage, which was especially beneficial at the initiation of the pilot project.

The costs to develop the contingency plans amounted to about SEK 500,000, which has been financed by Region Skåne.

More examples of climate adaptation

This is one of many examples of climate adaptation. There are more in the collection of ideas being built up by the Swedish National Knowledge Centre for Climate Change Adaptation at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI). The collection of examples has the aim of sharing experiences and providing ideas to everyone who works with climate adaptation. Examples describe concrete measures and challenges in several subject areas. They show how different actors have worked to adapt their activities to the climate changes that are already being noticed today and those that we cannot prevent in the future.