Calls for urgent investigation into thousands of deaths from non-Covid conditions


Thousands of excess deaths have been linked to ‘potentially reversible’ conditions such as ischemic heart disease, cirrhosis and diabetes (Picture: Getty Images)

Experts have called for an ‘urgent’ study, as figures show that almost 10,000 more people than usual have died in the last four months of non-Covid conditions.

The devastating rise comes as the NHS waiting list hits another record high with 5.83 million patients currently awaiting elective procedures in the UK.

There are fears that many people with treatable conditions could die as a result of hospitals canceling thousands of appointments in the darkest days of the pandemic.

England and Wales have recorded 20,823 more deaths than the five-year average in the last 18 weeks, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

Of these, 9,292 deaths – 45% – did not involve coronavirus, while 11,531 were associated.

A health expert has warned that ‘we need to understand what is going wrong’.

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, told The Telegraph that thousands of excess deaths were linked to ‘potentially reversible’ conditions such as ischemic heart disease, cirrhosis and diabetes.

He said: ‘This goes beyond just looking at the raw numbers and death certificates. We need to go back and find out if these deaths have any preventable causes.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 30: A patient is transported out of an ambulance at the Royal London Hospital on December 30, 2020 in London, England.  College of Paramedics spokesman Martin Berry said first aiders were under unprecedented pressure as new cases of Covid-19 exceeded 50,000 in the UK in one day yesterday.  (Photo by Hollie Adams / Getty Images)

A patient is transported out of an ambulance at Royal London Hospital (Image: Getty Images Europe)

‘This may be the result of the lack of preventive care during the pandemic and what is happening downstream from here.

‘We have an urgent need to understand what is going wrong and an investigation into the root causes to determine the actions that can prevent further unnecessary deaths.’

The number of deaths from all causes tends to increase towards the end of the year.

But the total number remains above average for the same week in the five years from 2015 to 2019, Professor of Applied Statistics Kevin McConway has warned.

The number of deaths in private homes is also 40.9% above the five-year average, where “most of the excess deaths do not involve Covid-19”.

The Institute and the Faculty of Actuaries previously said more people are expected to die this year, with the recent surplus non-Covid deaths linked to the country’s aging population.

This comes as ambulance response times in the UK are now at their peak since registrations began, with industry leaders even admitting that patient care has been compromised.

A man recently recounted how he survived nine strokes after his ambulance did not show up.

He fears others will not be as lucky as it has been revealed that the average waiting time for stroke 999 calls is almost 54 minutes – dangerously well above the target of 18 minutes.

More than 120,000 people waited in at least four hours in emergency departments last month – an increase of more than 50% since October 2019, the Royal College of Nursing warned in a recent report.

It comes as the government urges over 40s to get booster jabs to avoid a winter covid crisis. has contacted the Ministry of Health for a comment.

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