Winter deaths at its highest for 15 years

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There were an estimated 44,000 excess deaths in England and Wales last winter according to the Office for National Statistics.

Their study showed over recent years, higher levels of excess winter mortality are also related to the virulence of circulating flu strains and that even after a drop in 2013/14, deaths increased substantially in 2014/15.

In 2014/15 influenza was particularly virulent in elderly people, an already at-risk group, and resulted in numerous care home outbreaks.

By contrast, the 2010/11 flu strain was particularly virulent in younger people and has less of an impact on the elderly.

Between December 2014 and March 2015 there were 44,000 excess winter deaths, the highest number since the winter of 1999/2000.

READ MORE: What are the chances of a white christmas this year ?

The 5th-11th January 2015 had the most shocking statistic as 15,000 people died, the highest number in any given week since the last two weeks of December 1999.

Winter Flu was the most common cause of winter deaths as flu can lead to more life-threatening complications such as bacterial pneumonia. This means although flu itself is not always mentioned on the death certificate, it is a contributing factor in a great deal more cases.

Heidi Alexander, shadow health secretary, said: “These appalling figures are a national scandal. They show that tens of thousands of older people are dying unnecessarily in Britain today.

“Many of these excess deaths are caused by people living in homes that are too cold, and alongside action on social care, the Government needs to gets serious about tackling fuel poverty. Home insulation has fallen by 80 per cent under the Tories and is set to be cut back even further. Older people should not have to choose between heating and eating.”

Winter mortality has decreased significantly since the 1950s due to huge improvements in the healthcare system.

Despite the lower effectiveness in elderly people last year, the flu jab is still the best way to protect yourself from flu viruses and winter illnesses.

Read the flu information leaflet here

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