'True devastation’ of pandemic revealed by spike in Shropshire death figures
Deaths in Shropshire were more than 50 per cent higher in April than usual levels as the coronavirus crisis took hold, official figures show.
The British Medical Association says the “true devastation wrought by Covid-19” is starting to become clear, after official statistics showed deaths across England and Wales doubled last month.
Office for National Statistics figures show 444 deaths were recorded in the Shropshire Council area during April.
That was 147 more than the 297 recorded in April 2019 – a rise of 49 per cent.
In Telford & Wrekin there was a huge rise in the number, with 237 deaths recorded in April – 110 more than the 127 recorded in April 2019 – an increase of 87 per cent.
The picture was repeated in Powys where there was a 65 per cent rise, with a total of 215 deaths – 85 more than the 130 the previous year.
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The average rise across the West Midlands's 30 local authorities was 119 per cent.
Ministers and health experts leading the public response to the coronavirus crisis have consistently said excess mortality figures will be the most accurate measure of the overall impact.
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.
Separate data from the ONS shows there had been 35,597 deaths in England and Wales where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate as of May 1.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA council, said the figures showed the “widespread and tragic” impact the crisis is having on the population, which is extending far beyond the direct effects of the virus.
She said: “The response of the health service to adapt to the Covid 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.
“As such, 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, with some maybe even dying as a result.”
She added that the NHS must have the resources it needs to cope with an expected increase in demand for routine care in the coming months.
The Local Government Association 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.
Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said: “Every death from coronavirus, both directly and indirectly, is a tragedy.
"Councils have risen to the challenge of managing excess deaths, with additional temporary mortuary capacity they put in place proving sufficient to deal with the expected rise in the number of deaths, combined with excellent local partnership working with faith groups, funeral directors and others.
"Government needs to ensure that councils are properly funded, to make sure that provision is made for all those who die to be treated with dignity and respect.”
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