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Rise in mortality in England and Wales in first seven weeks of 2018

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1090 (Published 14 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k1090
  1. Lucinda Hiam, honorary research fellow1,
  2. Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder professor of geography2
  1. 1London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  2. 2University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to: D Dorling danny.dorling{at}ouce.ox.ac.uk

Health chiefs are failing to investigate a clear pattern of worsening health outcomes

Within the first seven weeks of 2018, some 93 990 people died in England and Wales.1 Over the same weeks in the previous five years, an average of 83 615 people died.1 This rise of 12.4%, or 10 375 additional deaths, was not due to the ageing of the population. Ageing is a slow process and leads to slow, not sudden, rises in mortality.2 An additional person died every seven minutes during the first 49 days of 2018 compared with what had been usual in the previous five years. Why?

Not the weather or flu

The weather was unusually mild during the initial weeks of this year—very cold weather did not arrive until late February. The mean temperature was 4.1°C across the UK in January 2018, almost half a degree above the average for this time of year.3

Nevertheless, the …

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