England has highest excess death rate: The King’s Fund responds to ONS international comparisons of mortality data

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Responding to the ONS comparisons of mortality between European countries and regions, January to June 2020, Dr Veena Raleigh, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, said:

‘This comprehensive ONS analysis shows that excess mortality to date resulting from the coronavirus pandemic has been highest in England compared to other European countries.

‘While some other European nations experienced sharper peaks in excess deaths, the rates in the UK have taken longer to come down. Moreover, we know that the pandemic has had an unequal impact, taking the greatest toll on lives among older people, more deprived populations and ethnic minority communities – thereby exposing yet again the wide and widening health divide in our population.

‘Over the past decade, life expectancy improvements in the UK have lagged behind our European peers. With the worst coronavirus death toll in Europe, there is a very real risk that the UK will slide even further down the life expectancy league tables. The priority for the UK is to control the pandemic and learn lessons ahead of a potential second wave, but it is also essential to tackle the underlying reasons for stalling life expectancy in recent years – many of which contribute to poor Covid-19 outcomes. This requires increased effort in prevention and public health, action to tackle the underlying socio-economic inequalities driving much of the preventable ill health, and a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities.’

Notes to editors

For more information or to request an interview, please contact Andrew McCracken on 07584 146035 or A.McCracken@kingsfund.org.uk.

Both Dr Veena Raleigh and the Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, Richard Murray, are available for interview. In June 2020, The King’s Fund updated it’s explainer on UK life expectancy: ‘What is happening to life expectancy in the UK?’

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.