Health

Winter deaths 'halve to 24,000'

File picture - hospital Image copyright KatarzynaBialasiewicz

There were 24,300 excess deaths in England and Wales last winter - about half the number of the previous year.

This means the number of extra deaths from December to March fell to traditional levels after the spike seen during the winter of 2014-15.

The extra deaths last winter represent a 15% increase on the average for the rest of the year, according to the Office for National Statistics data.

Death rates rise in the colder weather because of more respiratory illnesses.

The winter before last there were nearly 44,000 extra deaths - the highest since 1999.

Experts blamed that on the flu vaccine being less effective than previously.

But during the most recent winter, flu attacked younger groups.

Dr Anne Campbell, of the ONS, said: "One of the key factors behind the lower excess mortality this winter was a fall in the number of deaths among the elderly.

"This was mainly due to the most prevalent strain of the flu virus impacting younger people rather than older people, who are more at risk."

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