NHS Tayside is ranked amongst the three highest numbers of seasonal deaths in winter over the last 11 winters according to a new report by the National Records of Scotland.
The total number of deaths in Scotland over the four winter months of 2020/21 was the second highest total in the last 30 years, reaching 23,370.
The NHS boards of Tayside, Grampian and Borders tend to have the highest seasonal increases in mortality compared to the Scottish Average but also that these areas see year-to-year fluctuations, notable in COVID times.
A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said:
“Every winter period sees a seasonal increase in deaths compared to the rest of the year. The recent winter mortality figures show that until COVID-19 there was a fall in the seasonal increase in deaths over winter in NHS Tayside for two years and NHS Tayside was below the Scottish average of increased deaths in 2019/20.
“Seasonal increase in deaths over winter shows great variation over the whole country and there is no clear evidence of any consistent difference in the seasonal increase in mortality in winter across areas of Scotland.
“NHS Tayside has a dedicated winter planning group consisting of senior medical, nursing and managerial staff who co-ordinate and update the Winter Plan to ensure we meet the needs of the population, and in particular those who are frail and elderly or who are acutely ill over the winter period. We aim to support people to remain well and work with our partners to care for patients all year round.
“Our Winter Plan is a whole system health and social care response developed jointly with the three Health and Social Care Partnerships in Tayside, Scottish Ambulance Service and other key stakeholders.
“All those who are eligible for free COVID-19 and flu vaccinations are urged to take up the offer as it is the best way to protect themselves and others from these viruses. Information about keeping well in winter is available on the NHS Tayside website.”
Charity Age Scotland has expressed their concern over the overall figures in winter mortality as well as the increase in deaths from dementia and heart disease who saw additional deaths of 210 each.
Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said:
“These stark figures show the devastating impact that Covid-19 had last winter, in particular on the older population. These are not just statistics, but each one will be desperately missed by their family and loved ones.
“While there were exceptional circumstances, these high numbers are still very concerning. It’s also very worrying to see the significant increases in deaths from dementia and heart disease.
“We know that health and social care services were under incredible strain over the winter, working flat out to care for people at a very difficult time. But we have already expressed concerns about the removal of social care packages, with too many people struggling to access the care they needed in their communities. This is likely to have had serious consequences, especially on those living with dementia.
“With the current fuel crisis and temperatures dropping, we are urging the UK and Scottish Governments to provide extra help to those most vulnerable this winter.
“Health and social care partnerships are already under pressure, and they urgently need more support to care for those in need. There’s a very real risk that future excess death rates could remain high if we don’t tackle the backlog in those waiting for social and medical care and ensure services return to pre-pandemic levels.
“It’s also more vital than ever that older people take care of their health this winter, and take up their offer of Covid-19 booster and flu jabs for extra protection. Anyone concerned about themselves or another older person can call the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222.”
To read the NRS report in full, please visit: https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/deaths/winter-mortality/winter-mortality-in-scotland-202021