The Scottish Mail on Sunday

The shocking toll of 8,000 patients left to die at home

- By Gareth Rose SCOTTISH POLITICAL EDITOR

MORE than 15 Scots a day on average have died at home because they could not go to hospital, as the hidden death toll of the pandemic is laid bare.

New analysis shows deaths outside of hospitals and care soared during the health crisis – and not due to Covid.

Thousands more Scots than normal have died at home from cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.

Research found there were 8,242 additional deaths at home in the past 18 months – mostly from illnesses other than Covid. Many of those Scots were left to battle cancer, heart problems or other life-threatenin­g conditions at home due to the pandemic’s devastatin­g impact on the NHS.

There were 5,285 additional deaths at home in 2020 and 2,957 this year compared with the average of the previous five years, according to health data expert Colin Angus.

Mr Angus, of Sheffield University, produced analysis based on National Records of Scotland figures. He said: ‘The figures suggest that at least some of these additional deaths at home are those that have been displaced from hospitals due to the effects of the pandemic – people who were unwilling or unable to access treatment in hospital because of the impacts of Covid.

‘We can see this if we look at deaths from cancer. There have been 3,116 more deaths from cancer in private homes in 2020 and 2021 than we would have expected based on 2015/19. At the same time there have been 1,922 fewer deaths from cancer in hospitals.’

Last night, the figures sparked calls for the Scottish Government to do more to get the NHS back on track.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane, Scots Tory public health spokesman, said: ‘The situation before Covid was terrible but things have dramatical­ly worsened and SNP Ministers are failing to meet critical benchmarks.’

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour health spokeswoma­n, called for ‘an immediate Scottish inquiry into the handling of the pandemic so we can get to the bottom of these crucial questions’.

The Government insisted end-of-life care was a priority.

 ??  ?? CRITICAL: The Tories’ Dr Sandesh Gulhane
CRITICAL: The Tories’ Dr Sandesh Gulhane

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