Rise in mortality rates needs investigation, say researchers
There has been a “substantial increase” in recorded deaths across the UK, which has led to calls for a public enquiry.
Analysis of data from the Office of National Statistics in the British Medical Journal showed a 12.4 per cent rise in England and Wales in the first seven weeks of 2018 compared to last year, while in Scotland the same period recorded the highest number of deaths in 18 years.
Official figures show that 7,552 deaths were registered in Scotland in January, 1,909 more than the same month last year and 2,018 more than the average number of deaths in January over the past five years.
Writing in the BMJ, researchers Lucinda Hiam, a GP, and Oxford Professor Danny Dorling said the spike could not be attributed to the usual factors like the ageing population, cold weather or flu.
Crisis measures by health services, such as the cancelling or postponement of operations may have been a factor, they suggested.
“Health experts have repeatedly raised concerns about the impact that the lack of sufficient funding for health and social care is having on the health of the population, and these concerns have been repeatedly disregarded by the Department of Health and Social Care,” said Hiam.
“It is time for an urgent investigation to explore why for some in the UK, unlike Europe, life expectancy is not only stalling, but reversing.”
In Scotland, official figures showed a sharp rise in deaths from Alzheimer’s and dementia, by 15.8 per cent and 12.3 per cent respectively.
Such deaths now account for more than 10 per cent of all deaths in Scotland, double what it was a decade ago.