April 13, 2020 • Reading time 1 minute
Published 14 April 2020
During the week of the 3rd of April (week 14), ONS data released today suggest that excess deaths (compared to a 5-year average) were 6,083. The increase is most notable for London as the chart below shows, although other regions have seen a large rise in deaths relative to previous years.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect is that about a third of these deaths are not attributed to Covid-19. A lack of testing or poor recording might cause some misattribution, but major (Type 1) A&E attendances were down 26% year-on-year in March (April will be worse). Emergency admissions were also down in the same month (about 20%).
If this is true, then people with major, non-Covid-19, illnesses are not accessing essential healthcare.
There are two consequences of this: (1) higher mortality (above), and (2) unmet demand that still exists and may present more acutely in the coming weeks. Given any release of lockdown could trigger Covid-19 spreading again and also a surge of unmet need, the next few weeks may be even more challenging for the NHS.
As my friend Joh said during a descent on a pre-lockdown hiking trip, “most accidents happen on the way down”.