High energy costs blamed for excess death figures
THERE were an estimated 50,100 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2017/18 – the highest recorded since winter 1975/76, figures show.
The increase is thought to be down to the flu, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine and the particularly cold weather seen last winter.
However a pensioners’ group blamed high energy prices for at least some of the deaths.
Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has called on the Energy Minister, Claire Perry MP to resign following news that the scale of winter deaths among the country’s older population reached the highest figure since 1975/76.
The data, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), also shows that more than a third (34.7 per cent) of the deaths were caused by respiratory diseases.
Excess winter mortality continued to be highest among females and people aged 85 and over, while it doubled among males aged 0-64 between the winter of 2016/17 and 2017/18.
The number of daily deaths exceeded the five-year average for all dates except March 25.
Nick Stripe, head of health analysis and life events at the ONS, said: “It is likely that last winter’s increase was due to the predominant strain of flu, the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine and below-average winter temperatures.”
The ONS said the increases could be explained partly by temperature, as colder weather was observed in December, February and March compared with the five-year average.
Statisticians said the high number of deaths among the over-85 age group may be due to the circulation of influenza A and influenza B, which predominantly affected older adults.
The number of excess winter deaths observed in 2017/18 was higher than all years since the 1975/76 winter period, when there were 58,100 deaths. However, the increase was similar to peaks observed in previous years such as 2014/15, 1999/2000 and 1998/99.
Compared with recent years, excess winter deaths observed in 2017/18 were 45.1 per cent higher than the 2016/17 winter and more than double those seen in 2015/16.
The figures also showed that excess winter mortality in 2017 to 2018 significantly increased from 2016 to 2017 in all English regions and Wales, and
It’s time someone took
responsibility and that has to lie with the Energy Minister
those affected the most were females and people aged 85 and over.
Commenting on the findings, Age UK’s charity director, Caroline Abrahams, said: “A toxic cocktail of poor housing, high energy prices and illhealth can make winter a dangerous time for many older people, and tragically it is the oldest and those who are the most vulnerable who particularly suffer the consequences.”
Jan Shortt, NPC general secretary said: “Things are now the worst they’ve been for over 40 years.
“It’s time someone took responsibility and that has to lie with the Energy Minister.”