Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters English mortality from A/H1N1

Discrepancies in published data

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 02 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c613
  1. John Stone, contributing editor1
  1. 1Age of Autism, London N22
  1. johndanstone{at}

    A BBC report with which Sir Liam Donaldson1 was associated in September 2007 stated: “According to Department of Health figures, flu contributes to over 25 000 excess winter deaths every year and thousands of people are hospitalised due to serious complications.”2

    In 2006 I downloaded from the Department of Health website other statements about flu mortality that were not only mutually contradictory but also out of line with the present disclosure1 or, indeed, the BBC report.3 Another of Sir Donaldson’s publications stated, “Ordinary flu occurs every year during the winter months in the UK. It affects 10-15% of the UK population, causing around 12 000 deaths every year.”4 An information page reported, “Even during a winter where the incidence of flu is low, 3-4000 deaths may be attributed to flu; this can rise much higher in epidemic years, for example there were an estimated 13 000 deaths in 1993 which were attributable to flu and 29 000 in 1989/90.”4

    How can Donaldson et al explain the apparent distortion of policy based on claims of thousands of deaths from flu every year when their records show an average of no more than 33 deaths a year for the past four years?


    Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c613


    • Competing interests: None declared.