More than 75,000 extra deaths at home in England and Wales since pandemic began

More than 75,000 extra deaths have taken place in private homes in England and Wales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, new analysis shows.

Extra deaths – known as “excess deaths” – are the number of deaths above the average for the non-pandemic years of 2015-19.

A total of 75,474 excess deaths in homes in England and Wales were registered between March 7 2020 and October 29 2021, according to PA news agency analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Of this number, just 8,824 – or 12% – were deaths that involved Covid-19.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Deaths in private homes have been consistently well above the 2015-19 average since April 2020.

Even during recent months, when almost all lockdown restrictions have been eased across the country, the figure has typically been between 700 and 900 a week.

More than 10,000 excess deaths in private homes have been registered in England and Wales since the start of August.

This compares with around 5,000 excess deaths in hospitals and 1,400 in care homes over the same period.

The figures show there are still many more people than usual dying in their own homes.

Dr Sam Royston, director of policy and research at the end of life charity, Marie Curie, said: “This staggering number of people must be considered alongside the backdrop of reduced face-to-face services and staffing crises across community and social care.

Deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales
(PA Graphics)

“Over three quarters of carers told us their loved one didn’t get all the care and support they needed before they died at home during the pandemic. Based on today’s figures, this could be as many as 56,000 people who died in pain or without their symptoms being managed.

“Without drastic action, we fear that many more people will be dying at home without adequate care, in what has been the hidden crisis of this pandemic.”

Analysis published earlier this year by the ONS found that, while the majority of deaths due to Covid-19 in England and Wales in 2020 happened in hospitals and care homes, many deaths from other causes, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer, happened in private homes of people who – in a non-pandemic year – may have typically died elsewhere, such as in hospital.

Deaths from diabetes in private homes were 60% higher in 2020 compared with the average for 2015-19, while those from chronic rheumatic heart disease and Parkinson’s disease were both up 66%.

For dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, deaths were up 65%, with increases of 44% and 37% for prostate cancer and breast cancer respectively.

Separate ONS figures published on Tuesday show that a total of 10,987 deaths in all settings were registered in England and Wales in the week to October 29.

This was 1,228 above the five-year average.

Covid-19 accounted for 859 (70%) of these excess deaths.

It is also the 17th week in a row that deaths have been above the pre-pandemic average.

The number of Covid-19 deaths is still well below levels seen at the peak of the second wave of the virus, however.

In the week to January 29, 8,433 deaths involving coronavirus were registered in England and Wales – around 10 times the number registered in the most recent week.