More than 40,000 extra deaths have taken place in private homes in England and Wales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.
Extra deaths – known as “excess deaths” – are the number of deaths that are above the average for the corresponding period in the previous five years.
A total of 40,114 excess deaths in homes in England and Wales were registered between March 7 2020 and January 1 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Of this number, just 3,881 – or 10% – were deaths directly involving Covid-19.
The figures show that there are still many more people than normal who are dying in their own homes.
Deaths in private homes have been consistently well above the five-year average since April 2020.
While deaths in other settings had fallen below average by summer 2020 – after the end of the first wave of the virus – those in private homes remained above average by between 700 and 900 a week.
More recently this number has climbed to around 800 to 1,000 a week.
Previous analysis by the ONS found that deaths in private homes in England for males from heart disease, from the start of the coronavirus pandemic through to early September, were 26% higher than the five-year average, while prostate cancer deaths had increased 53%.
For women, deaths in private homes from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease had increased 75%, while deaths from breast cancer were up 47%.
Responding to the figures, Matthew Reed, chief executive at the end-of-life charity Marie Curie, said: “Last year is one that many would wish to forget. Sadly, we have entered a new year where we continue to see thousands more people dying unexpectedly.
“While we must do all we can to protect the NHS and help it through this third wave of Covid-19, we must also reflect on what we can learn today about the people who have died prematurely in 2020 from other causes, and those who died at home – many more people died at home in 2020 but we did not see significantly increased resources to support those people.”
Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said: “The UK had one of the highest rates of excess deaths in the world, with more excess deaths per million people than most other European countries or the US. It will take a public inquiry to determine exactly what went wrong but mistakes have been made. In a pandemic, mistakes cost lives.
“Decisions to enter lockdown have consistently come late, with the Government failing to learn from past mistakes or the experiences of other countries.”