Deaths nearly 20% higher than normal amid NHS crisis

Ambulances waiting at an A&E department  (PA Wire)
Ambulances waiting at an A&E department (PA Wire)

The number of weekly deaths recorded in England and Wales is nearly 20 per cent higher than normal, new figures reveal, amid an ongoing crisis in NHS care.

A total of 17,381 fatalities were recorded in the week up to January 13 – an increase of 19.5 per cent on the 5-year average, according to the Office for National Statistics.

There were 922 deaths involving Covid-19 during the time period, up by 24 per cent on the previous week.

The number of deaths recorded in private homes was almost a third (31.5 per cent) above average and 11.1 per cent higher than normal in hospitals.

Deaths were also 27.6 per cent higher in care homes and 12 per cent higher in other settings.

It comes as health experts warned that delays to emergency treatment could be behind the higher excess death toll in the UK.

Earlier this month, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) warned that delays to emergency care could be causing as many as 500 deaths per week, a figure disputed by NHS bosses.

Nearly 10,000 Londoners waited over 12 hours for treatment in A&E last month – the highest figure on record.

Suspected stroke patients in the capital waited an average of nearly an hour and a half for an ambulance last month, also the worst figure on record.

And a total of 5,196 people with an “emergency” condition, such as a stroke or heart attack, waited more than three hours for an ambulance in London during the time period.

Hospitals in London are facing their worst ever winter crisis amid a surge in flu cases, which the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) described as the worst flu season for a decade.

Deaths due to flu and pneumonia accounted for nearly one in 10 of all deaths registered in England and Wales, the highest proportion since before the pandemic.