East Devon has one of the highest rates of excess winter deaths in the South West, official figures show.

PUBLISHED: 10:49 10 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:52 10 December 2018


East Devon has one of the highest rates of excess winter deaths in the South West, official figures show.

Around 26% more people died in winter than in summer on average, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Across the rest of the South West, that figure is 18%.

Every year, more people die in winter than in summer - due to colder temperatures, respiratory diseases and outbreaks of flu.

To measure the impact, the ONS compares the number of additional deaths between December and March to the rest of the year.

During the winter of 2016/17, the latest period figures are available, there were approximately 150 excess winter deaths in East Devon.

This meant 26% more people died during winter in East Devon, compared with the yearly average.

This was higher than in the previous year when there were 12% more deaths during winter.

According to the ONS, small population sizes can cause a significant amount of year-on-year variation at a local level.

Across the South West, winter was most deadly for people aged 85 and older.

Out of 3,130 excess winter deaths in the South West, 3,120 were older than 65, and 2,090 older than 85.

Across England and Wales, the rate of excess winter deaths varies from as low as 4% to as high as 51%.

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said that the data raised concerns ‘as to why there is such variation even between areas in a single region’.

He said: “This data must act as a prompt to those in power to look at these trends and recognise that the capacity of the health service is being stretched beyond all measures in winter.

“We have an older, frailer population with increasingly complex medical problems, a lack of funding across health and social care to meet demand, a recruitment crisis and persistently poor performance.”

Provisional data for England and Wales shows that excess winter deaths hit their highest level in more than 40 years during 2017/18.

There were an estimated 50,100 excess winter deaths, 45% higher than the previous year.

Health think tank the King’s Fund said it was concerned that this ‘could be the start of a trend of periodically high winter deaths’.

The Department of Health and Social Care said that the 2017/18 figures ‘were likely the result of a combination of flu and cold weather’.

A spokesman said: “We know flu is difficult to predict - that’s why this year we have a stronger vaccine for over-65s, and have made more vaccines available than ever before.”

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Exmouth Journal. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Most Read

Latest from the Exmouth Journal