Virus sparks big jump in excess Sunderland deaths
The coronavirus pandemic caused a steep rise in the number of deaths recorded in Sunderland last year, according to new figures.
Office for National Statistics data shows 3,554 deaths were registered in the area last year – 533 (18%) more than the annual average of 3,021 recorded between 2015 and 2019.
They were among the 32,200 recorded in the North East – around 4,100 higher than the five-year average.
Health charity The King’s Fund is calling for a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic.
Health experts say “excess deaths” are a better measure of the overall impact of the pandemic than recording mortality directly linked to Covid-19 – because they capture deaths that may have been indirectly caused by the virus – including people finding it harder to access medical care for other conditions.
Nationally, 608,000 deaths were registered last year – 76,000 (14%) higher than the five-year average.
Veena Raleigh, senior fellow at The King’s Fund, said the ONS figures represented a “extraordinary death toll”.
She added: “At some stage, we hope there will be a public inquiry that will look at mistakes that could have been avoided.
“The UK went into this pandemic having had a long period of austerity, which meant the NHS was already overstretched."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “Every death is a tragedy and our deepest sympathies go to the families and loved ones of those who have died.
“Throughout the global pandemic the NHS has remained open for urgent care and we continue to urge anyone who needs healthcare to come forward.”