England and Wales deaths below average for first time since mid-March

Luke O'Reilly

The total number of weekly deaths from all causes has fallen below the average for this time of year for the first time since before lockdown.

There were 9,339 deaths in England and Wales in the week to June 19 – 0.7 per cent or 65 fewer than normal, the Office for National Statistics said today.

The number of weekly deaths of people with coronavirus also continued to fall, from 1,114 in the week ending June 12 to 783 announced today. This is half the 1,588 deaths involving coronavirus announced a fortnight ago.

Zuma Press / eyevine

Today’s figures include 50 in London involving Covid-19 in the most recent week, down from 71 announced by ONS last week.

The overall fall in all deaths was driven by a big fall in the number of deaths normally seen in hospitals and care homes, a drop of 782 and 49 respectively.

However the number of people dying at home increased by 827 – a likely consequence of continued observance of the lockdown and the refusal of many people to seek medical help.

Unlike much of the rest of the country, the capital did not see all manner of deaths fall below the five year average.

There were 896 deaths in London from all causes – 20 more than normal for the third week in June.

The ONS said 49,371 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in England and Wales since December 28 and June 19.

However the true number of UK deaths from the virus is thought to be about 55,000 once Scotland and Northern Ireland are included and the latest hospital deaths are added to the total.

The 9,339 deaths recorded in the most recent week was 637 lower than the preceding week. This means that no “excess deaths” were recorded in England and Wales since the week ending March 13. Lockdown was imposed on March 23.

The figures came as senior figures in the NHS were being questioned by MPs on plans to tackle the backlog of non-emergency surgery and diagnostic tests. There are fears the waiting list could hit 10 million.

The week ending June 19 also saw the lowest number of deaths involving Covid-19 for 12 weeks (Getty Images)

The Royal College of Physicians today warned that hospital services will take a year to return to full capacity.

It said almost half of physician specialities, such as cardiology, gastroenterology and rheumatology, expected to be working at less than previous pre-Covid activity levels for at least 12 months or more.

When asked how long it will take for the NHS to get back on an “even keel”, 98 per cent of RCP members in London thought it would take at least six months, 64 per cent said it would take more than a year and 29 per cent more than 18 months.

However, a separate report by NHS Providers said only 16 per cent of NHS trusts in London were confident of returning to a normal level of service.

The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said: “Trust leaders are as frustrated as patients and service users that they can’t go faster. But it’s not just a case of flicking the light switch back on. Covid-19 brings a whole new set of demands and the overwhelming priority must be to provide safe care.”

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