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According to a health lobby, Britain is facing a “humanitarian crisis” as energy prices rise.

The difficult choices forced on low-income households by soaring energy bills could cause serious physical and mental illness this winter, according to a healthcare lobby group on Friday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resisted calls to provide more assistance to households facing higher bills, claiming that his government will defer major fiscal decisions to the next prime minister, who takes office in early September.

“The country is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis,” said Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents healthcare organisations.

“Many people may be forced to choose between skipping meals to heat their homes and living in cold, damp, and extremely unpleasant conditions,” Taylor said in a statement.

He added that the situation could lead to outbreaks of respiratory diseases and mental illness, harm children’s lives, and put additional strain on the already overburdened state-run National Health Service (NHS).

According to a spokesperson for the British Ministry of Health, the government is already assisting households through a 37 billion pound ($44 billion) cost-of-living support package announced in May, and is also working to increase NHS capacity.

The average annual household energy bill in the United Kingdom — which includes both gas and electricity — is expected to more than double to more than 4,000 pounds ($4,766) by January, exacerbating inflation that already exceeded 10% in July.

Faced with mounting pressure, Johnson’s government announced last week that it was working on a cost-of-living assistance package for the next prime minister to consider, while the opposition Labour Party wants to recall parliament in order to freeze energy bills.

The NHS Confederation expressed concern that, in the absence of additional government support, “fuel poverty” would result in more deaths associated with cold homes, which are currently estimated to be around 10,000 per year.