Win­ter death toll hits three-year high

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - Weather Impact - Robert Mitchell

Win­ter deaths across La­nark­shire are at a three-year high.

Pro­vi­sional fig­ures re­leased last week re­vealed that 2873 peo­ple died across the region be­tween De­cem­ber 2017 and March 2018,

That’s a rise of ten per cent from the same pe­riod the pre­vi­ous year.

The death toll cor­re­sponded with one of the worst win­ters La­nark­shire has en­dured in re­cent mem­ory – in­clud­ing the Beast from the East storm.

Ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by the Na­tional Records of Scot­land, the win­ter mor­tal­ity rate in La­nark­shire rose from 2549 in 2015/16 to 2613 in 2016/17 – and went up again in 2017/18 to 2873.

De­spite the hike co­in­cid­ing with ex­treme weather, Anne Slater, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Na­tional Records of Scot­land, re­fused to jump to con­clu­sions.

She said: “There are al­ways more deaths in the win­ter in Scot­land than in any other season but the long-term trend since the early 1950s has clearly been down­ward.

“How­ever, the av­er­age value for the lat­est five years (which smooths out much of the year-to-year fluc­tu­a­tion) is now above the level that had ap­plied since the early 2000s.

“It is too soon to say whether there has been a change in the long-term trend. It could just be a short-term rise, like that seen roughly 20 years ago, after which the av­er­age fell for sev­eral years.”

Pro­fes­sor Derek Bell, pres­i­dent of the Royal Col­lege of Physi­cians of Ed­in­burgh, said the harsh win­ter and the spread of the flu virus played a ma­jor role in the in­crease.

He said more peo­ple who are classed as “at-risk” need to get a flu vac­cine to pro­tect them­selves over the win­ter months.

Pro­fes­sor Bell said: “Last win­ter was one of the harsh­est for some time, maybe a decade.

“We know that an ex­cess of deaths were re­ported last win­ter com­pared to the sea­sonal av­er­age, in part re­lated to in­fluenza and other re­s­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions.

“As such we con­tinue to en­cour­age all at-risk pa­tient groups – and in­deed health and care staff – to have their an­nual flu vac­ci­na­tion.

“It is also vi­tal to have ef­fec­tive win­ter plan­ning for all acute and emer­gency ser­vices.”

The win­ter mor­tal­ity fig­ures are sig­nif­i­cantly higher than the num­ber of peo­ple dy­ing in the warmer months of the year.

In La­nark­shire, 2353 peo­ple died be­tween Au­gust and Novem­ber 2017 and an­other 2249 be­tween April and July 2017.

The sea­sonal in­crease in mor­tal­ity across La­nark­shire – the num­ber of “ad­di­tional” deaths in the win­ter (com­pared with the av­er­age for the pe­ri­ods be­fore and after it) – was 572 for win­ter 2017/18.

This was 231 more than the cor­re­spond­ing fig­ure of 341 for win­ter 2016/17.

Sta­tis­tics from Na­tional Records of Scot­land show that sea­sonal in­crease in win­ter mor­tal­ity can fluc­tu­ate from one year to the next, with some years see­ing un­usu­ally large sea­sonal in­creases, such as the 511 across La­nark­shire in win­ter 2014/15, which was fol­lowed by 363 in win­ter 2015/16.

And the Scot­tish Government said there is no sin­gle cause for the num­ber of ad­di­tional deaths over the win­ter months.

A spokesper­son said it may be down to dis­eases such as pneu­mo­nia, adding: “The un­der­ly­ing causes of most of the ad­di­tional deaths in­clude re­s­pi­ra­tory sys­tem dis­eases (such as pneu­mo­nia and chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary disease), cir­cu­la­tory sys­tem dis­eases (such as coro­nary heart disease and stroke), de­men­tia and Parkin­son’s, Alzheimer’s and other de­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases. Very few are caused by hy­pother­mia and only a small pro­por­tion di­rectly by in­fluenza.”

The health boards with the high­est win­ter mor­tal­ity rates were Greater Glas­gow and Clyde ( 5038), Loth­ian ( 3139), La­nark­shire ( 2873), Grampian (2272) and Tay­side (1972).

Across Scot­land, a to­tal of 23,137 deaths were reg­is­tered in the four months of win­ter 2017/18, com­pared with 20,946 in win­ter 2016/17.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.