Avoidable deaths in Scotland rose by almost 10% during 2020

Coronavirus largely attributed to a rise in the number of avoidable deaths.

Avoidable death number rose by almost 10% during first year of Covid pandemic in Scotland iStock

The number of avoidable deaths in Scotland rose by almost 10% during the first year of the pandemic, according to new figures.

Statistics published by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) indicated that of the 64,093 registered deaths in 2020 recorded across the country, 17,153 (27%) were considered avoidable.

It marked an increase of 9% in the number of avoidable deaths in the previous year (15,520), with the rise attributed largely to coronavirus deaths.

Deaths are considered to be avoidable when considered either preventable or treatable through public health interventions or timely and effective healthcare.

Without the Covid virus, analysis suggested, the number of avoidable deaths in 2020 would have been 15,686.

After adjusting for age, avoidable mortality rates were found to be higher among men (425 per 100,000) than for women (253 per 100,000).

Cancers (29%) and circulatory diseases (25%) were amongst the most common causes of the total number of avoidable deaths in 2020.

Alcohol and drug related avoidable mortality rates increased for the ninth straight year, with 52 deaths per 100,000 people.

Having adjusted for age, avoidable deaths in the most deprived areas were nearly four times that in the least deprived areas of Scotland.

The NRS report also found that Scotland has a higher avoidable mortality rate than both England and Wales, as well as the GB average.

Julie Ramsay, head of vital events statistics at NRS, said: “The avoidable mortality rate in Scotland fell between 2003 and 2014, but remained fairly stable from then until 2019.

“The inclusion of Covid-19 as an avoidable cause of death has contributed to the increased rate of avoidable mortality seen in 2020.”

She added: “Avoidable alcohol and drug-related deaths continued to increase, but there were fewer avoidable deaths from cancers and respiratory illnesses than in previous years.”