England and Wales death rate up one third in January

February 23, 2015   //   No Comments

The number of deaths in England and Wales is one third higher than normal for this time of year.

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that 28,000 people died in the two weeks ending 23rd January, compared to an average of just 21,000 deaths over the same period in the last five years.  While the definite cause of the higher than expected rate is not yet known, many experts are suggesting that flu is the driving force.

According to research by Public Health England (PHE), GPs and hospitals are spending much more time dealing with flu than they did at the same time last year.  This is despite a similar vaccination rate to last year.  One particular strain of flu virus, H3N2, which has been prevalent, is known to affect elderly people particularly badly.  Senior civil servants in the Department of Health have also suggested that the increased death rate may be linked to the mild weather experienced last winter.  It is possible that an unusually large number of frail people may have survived last year but have now succumbed to the flu virus circulating this year.