In July 2023, we put some questions to Andrew Jones MP, and Louise Wallace, the Director of Public Health for North Yorkshire.
Andrew Jones MP replied in a matter of days, and the Director of Public Health two-months.
We put to them the ONS data that showed there were excess deaths throughout England and Wales.
From the ONS, for week ending 30 June 2023 there were 950 excess deaths which is 8.8% above the five-year average.
- 10,373 deaths were registered in England and Wales
- 129 of these deaths mentioned novel coronavirus (COVID-19), accounting for 1.2% of all deaths.
- Of the 129 deaths involving COVID-19, 61.2% (79 deaths) had this recorded as the underlying cause of death
Number of deaths above the five-year average:
- Private homes, 22.9% above, (589 excess deaths)
- Hospitals, 6.1% above, (257 excess deaths)
- Care homes, 3.7% above, (70 excess deaths)
At the end of July we put questions to Louise Wallace, the Director of Public Health for North Yorkshire, in relation to the statistics above.
Specifically we asked for an interview, that was declined, and then we put some email questions to her:
- What are the excess deaths in North Yorkshire?
- What does she believe is the cause of these excess deaths?
- What action does she believe should be taken in respect of these deaths ?
We were told that unfortunately, Louise’s diary is busy for the next few weeks and she will not be available for interview, but we were provided with this statement.
North Yorkshire Council’s director of public health, Louise Wallace said:
Trends in excess deaths for North Yorkshire are in line with those seen regionally and nationally.
The main causes of excess winter deaths in England include chronic respiratory diseases, chronic heart diseases, cancer, and ‘symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions’, such as old age and frailty.
This can vary depending on the time of year. For example, there are more excess deaths related to chronic respiratory conditions occurring during winter months.
We continue to work with partners on a range of public health initiatives, such as smoking cessation services and NHS Health Checks, to reduce the burden of acute and chronic disease that contribute to excess mortality in North Yorkshire.
Andrew Jones MP said:
I have seen the ONS figures for excess deaths. I am not a healthcare professional and I think people who are not professionals in that field should be wary about fielding their own interpretations.
People should also be cautious when accepting explanations they read on the internet which may well be from conspiracy theorists and outlandish groups.
Health professionals have offered a number of different reasons for the recent rise in the number of excess deaths including disruption to healthcare provision during the pandemic, reduced physical activity or weakened health in those who have previously caught Covid-19. Excess deaths often increase with unaccustomed heat and last summer saw record temperatures being set in the UK.
The Government is also taking action to reduce excess deaths due to other factors. The NHS has published a delivery plan setting out a clear vision for how the NHS will recover and expand elective services over the next three years. The plan commits the NHS to deliver nine million additional treatments and diagnostic procedures over the next three years and around 30 percent more elective activity than it was doing before the pandemic by 2024/25.
So there are a number of potential explanations and actions being taken.