Energy blackouts: 'I rely on a ventilator, I'd be scared to go to sleep at night'

Mark Baggley, 62 from Hull, relies on a ventilator at night to sleep which would be cut off in a black out. (Mark Baggley)

The UK could face energy blackouts this winter as Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine continues to disrupt energy supplies across Europe.

In what it called an “unlikely” scenario, the National Grid said that households and businesses might face planned three-hour outages to ensure that the grid does not collapse.

Liz Truss has played down these concerns, blocking a public information campaign to urge people to use less energy and insisting the UK has “good energy supplies” and “can get through the winter”.

However, experts have said that failing to energy ration could leave vulnerable people without functioning medical equipment at home during blackouts - with Simon Francis, co-ordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, telling Yahoo News UK blackouts could be "life threatening".

Among those at risk is Mark Baggley, 62 from Hull, who suffers with breathing difficulties and is a wheelchair user.

Read more: Energy blackouts: Medical equipment for vulnerable people at home could be cut off

Mark, who relies on a ventilator to sleep, told Yahoo News UK that a recent six-hour power cut in his home made him realise how challenging this winter could be for his health.

“My worry [is] that come bedtime I [won’t] be able to go to bed…" said Mark. "I can’t sleep without the ventilator.”

He expressed concern that not only would it be damaging for his health, but it could also affect his ability to do his job as a manager at the Choices and Rights Disability Coalition.

While Mark is on a priority register with his energy provider, he discovered during the recent power cut that there is little they can do to help if the power in the area goes out.

“I rang [the energy company] and they said I’m down as a vulnerable customer," he said.

"[But] I think some people think that you get put back on a first, or early - but, obviously, it can’t work like that if an area goes down, they can’t just turn one house back on…. it’s a big concern.”

Mark was told by his consultant around a 1,000 people on ventilators in his area of Yorkshire and Humberside could be affected by blackouts. (Mark Baggley)

He also said he has spoken to his consultant about the issue, and warned blackouts have the potential to affect around a 1,000 people using ventilators like he does in his area of Yorkshire and Humberside alone.

“My consultant has been looking at the ventilator situation..." he said. "I think he said there’s about 1,000 people in ventilators and, if they don’t use them... in some cases it’d be very serious.

“[Another] concern was that people might try and manage without ventilators, [or use them] less to try and save money on electric - which is going to have an affect on their health which will increase problems for hospitals.”

Mark lamented the fact the prime minister has ruled out launching a public information campaign to encourage people to scale back on energy to avoid shortages, describing it as "crazy".

"I think doing an awareness campaign about saving energy is a good thing to do," he said.

Read more: How much will my bills increase now the energy price cap comes into effect

"The green issues, it's a good thing to do - saving money for people, it makes sense, even in normal times.

"At this time it seems crazy not to do it, because it might provide some useful tips for people for things that they can do, such as doing your wash at different times of night rather than doing it in the morning or peak time."

Mark's story comes as Labour say it would be "sensible" to give the public advice on how to cut down on consumption and criticise the prime minister for blocking the move.

“It is entirely possible and sensible to give the public factual information about how they can save money on their energy bills," said climate change secretary, Ed Miliband.

“It would be wrong for Liz Truss to block the provision of this kind of information because of dogma or embarrassment about the energy crisis that failed Conservative energy policy has caused."

The department for health and social care has been contacted for comment.

Watch: Tory climate minister refuses to rule out winter blackouts amid energy crisis