Highest excess deaths in Scotland for 129 years in 2020

There were 6,324 more deaths last year than the average over the previous five years.

Highest excess deaths in Scotland for 129 years in 2020 Pixabay
Coronavirus: Responsible for majority of excess deaths.

Scotland recorded its highest excess death numbers in 129 years in 2020, according to new figures.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) show there were 6,324 more deaths last year than the average over the previous five years.

There was a provisional total of 64,084 people who died in 2020 compared to an average of 57,760 over the previous five years.

It is the highest number since 1891 when there were 9,253 excess deaths, mainly caused by a so-called “Russian flu” outbreak.

This marker does not include wartime deaths which take into account civilian deaths but were heavily affected by casualties such as bombing.

If these are included then 2020 was the largest number of excess deaths since 1940, when deaths were 7,097 above average.

Excess deaths are a measure of how many more people died than would be expected based on the previous five years.

Of the 6,834 deaths involving Covid-19 between March and December 2020, 93% had at least one pre-existing condition, with dementia and Alzheimer’s the most common.

People living in the most deprived areas were 2.2 times as likely to die with Covid-19 than those in the least deprived parts of Scotland.

The most recent NRS statistics show 7,448 people have now died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus.

Between January 11 and 17, 368 deaths relating to the virus were registered, down 23 from the previous week.

The majority, 240, were in hospitals – with 97 in care homes.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave the Public Health Scotland Covid-19 statistics, which record only confirmed death figures of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days

Under this measure, 5,468 people have died with the virus in total, with the First Minister announcing an additional 92 deaths in the past day.

She said 1,656 positive tests have been recorded in the previous 24 hours.

A total of 2,003 people are in hospital, 156 of them in intensive care.
“The figures that I have reported today demonstrate the serious of the situation we continue to face,” she said.

Case numbers appear to have stabilised and may be declining, she said, but cases “remain too high” and the NHS is under pressure that is “almost certain to increase”.