Hundreds of excess deaths in Bedford last year, according to Public Health England
These are considered a better measure of the overall impact of Covid-19 than mortality directly linked to the virus
Bedford's death toll during the last year of the coronavirus pandemic was hundreds higher than during previous years, figures suggest.
That’s according to Public Health England data that compares the number of deaths registered during the last year with how many were predicted based on previous mortality rates.
The area had 1,940 deaths from any cause registered between March 21 last year – just days before the UK’s first lockdown – and March 19 this year.
That was 415 more than the 1,525 predicted based on the previous five years.
It means there were 27.2 per cent more deaths than expected – higher than the England average of 20 per cent.
So-called “excess deaths” are considered a better measure of the overall impact of Covid-19 than simply looking at mortality directly linked to the virus, as they capture deaths that may have been indirectly caused by the crisis, and are not affected by changes in the level of testing.
Over the same period, there were 521 deaths in Bedford with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate.
Nationally, more than 100,000 excess deaths were recorded, while there were 129,000 with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate.
Dave Finch, senior fellow at charity the Health Foundation, said the two figures differed because Covid-19 is mentioned on death certificates even if it is not the leading cause of death.
He added: “However, what is clear is the huge scale of the impact of Covid-19 on the number of deaths and that the impact has tended to be greater in more deprived areas, reflecting the pattern of existing health inequalities.”
Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said there were “complex and deep-rooted” reasons why certain areas have been hit harder by the pandemic than others, including age in the community, ethnicity, levels of deprivation, and what jobs people do.
She added: “These are all factors that can make people more vulnerable to Covid-19. The worst affected communities are likely to have felt the impact of several disparities combined.
“However, we also know that by sticking to the rules, and having the vaccine when offered one, we can all do our part to help protect ourselves and those around us wherever we live.”