The King's Fund responds to ONS winter mortality figures for 2018/19

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Commenting on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) excess winter mortality figures for 2018/19, Dr Veena Raleigh, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, said:

‘Thankfully, 2018/19 brought a kinder winter, with fewer excess winter deaths than in some recent years.

‘However, today’s figures give no cause for complacency. Steady reductions in the numbers of excess winter deaths have slowed since 2011 and year-to-year fluctuations have become more erratic. Just a year earlier, in 2017/18, excess winter deaths peaked at a four-decade high when many older and vulnerable people succumbed to a virulent flu virus and respiratory illnesses associated with cold weather. It is therefore vital that NHS and social care services are sufficiently staffed and resourced to cope with the pressures that such challenging winters can bring.

‘As health and care services enter this winter already struggling to meet the demand for their services, and with precious little spare capacity, we can only hope that this winter will be as kind as the last.’

Notes to editors

The ONS excess winter mortality figures in England and Wales: 2018 to 2019 (provisional) are available here.

The ONS has said:

  • there were an estimated 23,200 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in the 2018 to 2019 winter, the lowest since the winter of 2013 to 2014
  • excess winter mortality continued to be higher in females compared with males and highest in females aged 90 years and over compared with females at younger ages
  • respiratory diseases continued to be the leading cause of excess winter deaths that occurred in 2018 to 2019
  • the increased effectiveness of the influenza vaccination across all age groups along with the lower levels of influenza activity during 2018 to 2019 coincided with a decrease in excess winter deaths.

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