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Sharp spike in deaths in England and Wales needs investigating, says public health expert

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i981 (Published 17 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i981
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

A sharp rise in the annual number of deaths recorded in England and Wales in 2015 has left public health experts grasping for answers.

Preliminary figures show a 5.4% increase in deaths from 2014 to 2015, the biggest rise for several decades. The Office for National Statistics estimated that, after adjustment for population growth, the crude death rate rose by 4.9% in 2015. Smaller rises recorded in 2012 and 2013 were explained at the time by Public Health England as being due to influenza and cold weather.

Death rates have been falling steadily (with an occasional blip) for the past 30 years, so a change in trend is a concern. Dominic Harrison, public …

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