Excess deaths in Gloucestershire have fallen from a near two-year peak as the NHS deals with intense winter pressures, new figures show.
Health think tank, the King's Fund, said the latest data, which shows a sharp fall in the number of excess deaths across England and Wales, is welcome after a winter hit by high flu numbers, still some Covid-19 deaths and an NHS under intense pressure following the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Office for Health Improvement and Disparities figures show 185 deaths were registered in Gloucestershire in the week to January 27, the most recent week for which data is available.
Some 163 people were expected to die in that week, meaning 22 excess deaths were recorded.
This was a fall from 49 excess deaths in the week ending January 6, marginally below the two-year peak of 50 in the week to April 29, 2022.
Across England, there were 548 excess deaths in the week to January 27 – a significant fall on the weekly average of 2,543 in the three weeks before since the turn of the year.The 3,746 excess deaths recorded in the week to January 13 was the highest on record in almost two years, dating back to the 5,120 logged in the week to February 5, 2021.
Dr Veena Raleigh, senior fellow at the King's Fund, said the recent fall is due in part to falling deaths from flu and Covid-19. Milder weather following cold spells in December and early January has also helped.
Dr Raleigh added: "However, this lull should not lead to complacency. Emergency services remain under intense pressure and the NHS is also facing a rising backlog of care, with the waiting list now exceeding 7 million.
"The combination of over-stretched health and care services and growing unmet care needs will continue to present potential hazards to health for some time to come."
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on excess deaths is much reduced than during the previous peaks in 2020 and 2021, but is still present.
In the week to January 27, 545 (4%) of the 13,296 registered deaths across the country had Covid-19 listed on the death certificate – during previous surges of excess deaths, the proportion of Covid-19-caused deaths rose above 33%.
Of them, eight were in Gloucestershire.
The Department for Health and Social Care said the recent peak in excess deaths was caused by several factors, including high flu prevalence, cold weather, the ongoing challenges of Covid-19 and health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
A spokesperson said: "Our urgent and emergency care recovery plan will further reduce pressure on hospitals by scaling up community teams, expanding virtual wards, and get 800 new ambulances onto the roads."