winter deaths

Preventable winter deaths highest since 1999

There were an estimated 43,900 preventable deaths – so called 'excess deaths' – in England and Wales last winter, the BBC reports today.

The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, are up 12,000 compared with the 2012/13 winter and are the highest number of deaths since 1999.

Most of the deaths involved people over the age of 75, with respiratory illnesses identified as the underlying cause of death for more than a third of cases.

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Each year, the Office for National Statistics calculates the number of ‘excess winter deaths' – deaths from December to March compared with the average number of deaths occurring in the preceding and following four month periods in England and Wales. The figure for last winter is likely to see a significant hike up to some 36,000 – mainly of older people, not killed by the cold per se, but by illnesses brought on by lack of access to affordable heating, or suitably warm, dry accommodation, or most likely both.

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