Patients dying at home from causes other than Covid-19 are fuelling excess UK deaths: ONS figures

Overall, the number of excess deaths which occurred in people’s own homes was more than twice the total number of Covid-19 deaths in any setting, including including hospitals and care homes.

The figures show 6,714 excess deaths occured at home between July 19 and August 21, just 203 of which involved Covid-19. The ONS said the figures were “considerably” above five-year average levels.

In the same period, there were 2,638 deaths linked to Covid in any setting, including hospitals and care homes. 

The figures for the two months ending July 10 break down the number of deaths by condition. 

They show that among under-65s, there were 1,244 deaths from diabetes, compared with a five year average of 997.

The same group saw 1,129 deaths linked to high blood pressure, when roughly 843 would have been expected. There were also 323 deaths caused by arrhythmias, compared with a five-year average of 242.

And the statistics show 9,195 pensioners died from diabetes, compared with a five year average of 8,004, with 10,923 deaths linked to high blood pressure, when approximately 9,477 would have been anticipated.

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “Patients have paid a heavy toll for the emergency measures that have restricted access to the NHS, however necessary they might have been. 

“These rather shocking excess death statistics show that the steps taken during the emergency period, though understandable in a crisis situation, are clearly not, as some have argued, any sensible basis for a ‘new normal’ or a new relationship between patients and the NHS.”

Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said:  “It is particularly concerning that we are still seeing excess deaths related to heart and circulatory disease in younger people under the age of 65.

“We are also concerned that the increased rate of deaths occurring at home, alongside the decrease occurring in hospitals, could indicate a lack of access and support for heart patients.

“Restoring and maintaining care for patients living with heart and circulatory diseases must now become and remain a priority,” she said. 

In July a study of 50,000 patients found that deaths from the most common type of heart attack rose by nearly 40 per cent during lockdown.

The research prompted warnings that the Government’s ‘stay home’ message may have had a “devastating” effect by deterring thousands of patients in medical crisis from seeking help. 

The study, led by the University of Leeds, tracked more than 50,000 patients who had a heart attack and were treated at 99 major hospitals in England before or during lockdown.

It follows warnings that the number of people attending Accident and Emergency departments fell by 50 per cent at some points during the pandemic, while urgent referrals for suspected cancer dropped by 70 per cent. 

An NHS spokesperson said: “NHS staff have worked around the clock to treat 108,000 people for coronavirus at the same time as keeping other services open for those who need them, including providing around 10 million hospital tests, checks and treatments for non-Covid-19 issues and 100 million appointments in general practice in a safe way, and we are continuing to urge people to come forward for care when they need it.”

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