Revealed: Bedford neighbourhoods with highest Covid-19 death toll
The Institute of Health Equity said those living in crowded accommodation were at greater risk of infection
Bedford's neighbourhoods worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic have been revealed in the first annual death toll of the virus.
In the 12 months from March last year, 462 people in Bedford died due to Covid-19, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures – a rate of 273 per 100,000 people.
The peak month for deaths was January when 122 were recorded.
The figures also show which of Bedford's 20 neighbourhoods saw the most and fewest deaths of residents over the 12-month period.
Factors behind a larger number can include the number of care homes in a particular area.
The neighbourhoods with the highest number of deaths due to Covid-19:
1) Harpur – 45
2) Wyboston, Great Barford and Cople – 36
3) Castle and Kingsway – 35
3) De Parys – 35
The neighbourhoods with the fewest number of deaths:
1) Newnham – 6
2) Kempston Central and East – 10
2) Riseley and Sharnbrook – 10
As well as providing local-level data, the ONS statistics also showed the wide disparity in the pandemic’s impact on different communities.
The most deprived areas across England had death rates related to Covid-19 of more than double that of the most affluent parts – 331 per 100,000 compared to 137 over the 12-month period from March last year.
The Institute of Health Equity said those in deprived areas were more likely to be a key or low-paid economy worker, meaning they were less able to work from home and were at greater risk to infection.
It also said they were more likely to be living in crowded accommodation.
Senior advisor Peter Goldblatt said: "Earlier and stricter lockdown would have saved lives disproportionately in deprived areas.
"However, to do this effectively would have required greater support to key workers and those in the gig-economy.
“This is both in terms of more generous and wider furlough and improved supply of PPE and other safety measures both in the workplace, in the community and while travelling to and from work."
The Health Foundation is examining the impact of the pandemic on health equalities as part of its Covid-19 Impact Inquiry, with the findings to be reported to the Government in the summer.
Senior research fellow, Merhrunisha Suleman, said: "Long term concerted policy effort could have helped to reduce these underlying health inequalities but in the last decade the focus has shifted towards addressing acute need rather than investing in longer term determinants of our health."
The Department for Health and Social Care highlighted that the higher rate of deaths in the most deprived areas was not just confined to those caused by Covid-19.
The department said the Government was committed to levelling up health outcomes.
A spokesperson said: "We know this pandemic has caused financial hardship for many people across the country, and we have acted decisively to make sure nobody is left behind, with extensive support for people on low-pay to help them through this period."