North Somerset deaths double in April after pandemic strikes district
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Deaths in North Somerset were more than 50 per cent higher in April than usual levels as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, official figures show.
Office for National Statistics figures show 268 deaths were recorded in North Somerset during April – 95 more than the 173 recorded in April 2019 – which equates to 55 per cent more deaths. This was far lower than the average rise across the South West’s 30 authorities, where death counts increased by 67 per cent.
Ministers and health experts leading the public response to the pandemic have consistently said excess mortality figures will be the most accurate measure of the overall impact of coronavirus on the UK.
Across England and Wales, the April death toll rose by more than 44,000 in April, climbing from 44,123 in 2019 to 88,153 this year.
The figures include all deaths, not just those directly attributed to Covid-19.
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Chairman of the British Medical Association council, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: “The response of the health service to adapt to the Covid-19 crisis has been nothing short of remarkable, but because the NHS was severely overstretched prior to the pandemic, this could only be achieved by diverting resources away from other areas of care.
“Many non-Covid patients have been unable to access treatments or have been deterred from attending hospital or contacting their GP practice. Consequently, as many ill patients are not getting the care they so desperately need, their conditions are worsening and some may even be dying as a result.”
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The Local Government Association (LGA) says councils have stepped up to cope with the surge in deaths and subsequent funerals, but echoed calls for funding to be provided for the long-haul.
Chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, Ian Hudspeth, said councils have ‘risen to the challenge of managing excess deaths’ with additional temporary mortuary capacity put in place to deal with the expected rise in the number of deaths, alongside partnership working with faith groups, funeral directors and others.
A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “Every death in the region and across the UK is a tragedy, especially given the current circumstances we all find ourselves in.”