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expert reaction to latest ONS stats on deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional: week ending 30 December 2022

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), have released the latest data for deaths in England and Wales.


Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter, Emeritus Professor of Statistics, University of Cambridge, said:

“Deaths registered in the last week of the year were 20% higher than expected, the same relative excess as the previous week which covered a period of very cold weather.  Multiple factors will be contributing to this: early flu, Covid, the impact of disrupted care in the pandemic, and the acute crisis in the NHS.  Research has shown that delays in admission are linked to increased mortality rates, and it is plausible that this is leading to hundreds of the excess deaths.

“But this is not just a winter issue – there have been high excess non-Covid deaths since June, coinciding with disruption in ambulance response times and A&E waiting times.  In comparison with pre-pandemic 2019, since June there have been around 40,000 additional deaths in England and Wales, a 14% increase, although when actuaries allow for the ageing population, this falls to around 27,000, a 9% increase.  Around half of these involved Covid, but this still leaves an average of around 450 excess non-Covid deaths each week since June – now flu and cold weather have been added in, this is even higher.  A third of the deaths involving Covid will not have it as the primary cause, and many will have caught it in hospital.

“The continuing pattern of excess deaths deserves close scrutiny.”



Declared interests

Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter: “I am a Non-Executive Director of the UK Statistics Authority, which oversees the work of the Office for National Statistics.”

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