The Daily Telegraph

Non-covid deaths at home leapt by almost third during lockdown

Charities call for inquiry amid fear many people died without vital medical treatment or pain relief

- By Sarah Knapton Science editor

NEARLY 90,000 more people than usual died at home from non-covid causes during the pandemic, leading to fears that some could not access medical treatment or passed away without pain relief.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that there was a 30.2 per cent rise in deaths in private homes between March 2020 and June this year.

At the same time, the number of people dying in hospital and hospices for non-covid reasons plummeted by nearly 95,000, suggesting that most of those who died at home would ordinarily have been taken in for care.

Charities said that the situation was concerning and needed urgent investigat­ion.

Ruth Driscoll, an associate director at Marie Curie, the terminal illness charity, said: “This significan­t increase in the number of people dying at home due to terminal illness is deeply concerning because many of them are struggling to access the pain relief and end-of-life care they need due to the postcode lottery in palliative care across England and Wales.

“We urge the Government to invest in the healthcare workforce to ensure that in future nobody is left to die in pain and without dignity.”

Figures show that those dying at home from heart disease rose by 19.1 per cent during the pandemic, with 9,991 more deaths than expected when compared with the five-year average.

There were also 9,134 more deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in private homes – up 62.5 per cent – and 9,593 more deaths from cancers.

The statistics also show there has been a worrying rise in non-covid excess deaths in recent months, with May seeing 15.4 per cent more deaths than the five-year average, while June saw a rise of 8.6 per cent.

Of the 6,473 excess deaths in May, more than three-quarters – 4,897 or 76 per cent – were not due to Covid while, in June, 82 per cent were non-covid.

The ONS said many of the excess deaths this year were due to cardiac arrhythmia­s, heart diseases, diabetes, as well as dementia.

Dr Sonya Babu-narayan, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said urgent research was needed to find out why so many more people were dying with heart problems.

“Far more people are now dying at home from cardiovasc­ular causes than before the pandemic,” she said.

“This is a deeply concerning situation with devastatin­g consequenc­es that needs to be addressed urgently if we are to reduce avoidable deaths.”

Overall there have been 3,848 excess deaths registered in England and Wales in the first half of this year.

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