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More than 70,000 extra deaths at home in England and Wales since pandemic began

·3 min read

More than 70,000 extra deaths have taken place in private homes in England and Wales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, new analysis shows.

Extra deaths – known as “excess deaths” – are the number of deaths above the average for the corresponding period in the non-pandemic years of 2015-19.

A total of 70,602 excess deaths in homes in England and Wales were registered between March 7 2020 and September 17 2021, according to PA news agency analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Of this number, just 8,423 – or 12% – were deaths that involved Covid-19.

HEALTH Coronavirus Deaths
(PA Graphics)

The figures show there are still many more people than normal who are dying in their own homes.

Deaths in private homes have been consistently well above the 2015-19 average since April 2020.

Even during recent months, when almost all lockdown restrictions have been eased across the country, excess deaths in homes have typically been running at between 700 and 900 a week.

More than 8,200 excess deaths in private homes have been registered in England and Wales since the start of July.

This compares with around 2,300 excess deaths in hospitals and nearly 1,000 in care homes over the same period.

Analysis published earlier this year by the ONS found that, while the majority of deaths due to Covid-19 in 2020 happened in hospitals and care homes, many deaths from other causes, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer, happened in private homes of people who – in a non-pandemic year – may have typically died elsewhere such as in hospital.

Its figures showed that deaths from diabetes in private homes were 60% higher in 2020 compared with the average for 2015-19, while those from chronic rheumatic heart disease and Parkinson’s disease were both up 66%.

For dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, deaths were up 65%, with increases of 44% and 37% for prostate cancer and breast cancer respectively.

Ruth Driscoll, head of policy and public affairs at end-of-life charity Marie Curie, said: “This latest data shows that during the pandemic, on average, over 120 more people were dying at home every day compared with the previous five years. This trend is not going away and these figures continue to point to a hidden crisis happening in people’s homes up and down the country.

“People are dying at home without access to pain relief or the dignity they deserve, and their carers are being left unsupported. Lessons must be learned from the pandemic, which has been a stress test for end-of-life care in the community and has shown that the current model for supporting people at end of life is neither resilient nor sustainable in the long term.

“We are at a critical moment for end-of-life care and support services and we urge MPs to support our calls for an amendment to the Health and Care Bill, which would create a legal duty to provide palliative care services in every part of the country.”

HEALTH Coronavirus Deaths
(PA Graphics)

Separate ONS figures published on Tuesday show that a total of 11,009 deaths in all settings were registered in England and Wales in the week to September 17.

This was 1,703 deaths above the five-year average.

Covid-19 accounted for only half (851) of these excess deaths, however.

It is also the 11th week in a row that deaths have been above the pre-pandemic average.

The number of Covid-19 deaths is still well below levels seen at the peak of the second wave of the virus.

In the week to January 29, 8,433 deaths involving Covid-19 were registered in England and Wales – nearly 10 times the number registered in the most recent week.

The relatively low number of deaths in the third wave so far, when compared with the second wave, reflects the success of the rollout of coronavirus vaccines across the country.

Vaccinations in England are estimated to have prevented 123,100 deaths, according to the latest research by Cambridge University and Public Health England.

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