South Tyneside death toll falls below pre-pandemic level
Office for National Statistics figures show 131 deaths were recorded in the borough during July – 12 fewer than the number recorded in July 2019 and a drop of eight per cent.
It was the same story across Tyne and Wear, with the death count falling slightly, from 912 to 883.
The figures still mean there were 177 (18%) more deaths in South Tyneside in the year to the end of July than at the same point last year and, nationally, there were 40,731 deaths recorded in July - lower than the 42,192 a year earlier.
It is the first time deaths had dropped below last year's level since the start of the pandemic in March.
Overall, 374,013 deaths were recorded between January and the end of July - an increase of 61,179 on the same point in 2019.
The British Medical Association said it was difficult to draw conclusions from the figures but its chairman, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, speaking at the group's annual conference, said it was "imperative" the Government give the NHS the resources it needs to deal with a "triple whammy” of the non-Covid backlog, the ongoing risk of a second spike, and annual winter pressure on the system.
Dr Nagpaul said an overstretched NHS had lacked capacity at the start of the pandemic, leaving millions of patients to become "collateral damage" as services were halted.
He said: “As coronavirus reached our shores, our overstretched NHS already had record waits for operations, cancer treatments and GP appointments, 10,000 unfilled doctor vacancies, and only a quarter of Germany’s critical care beds.
"This lack of capacity forced the NHS to halt so many services during the pandemic.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “We have made significant strides in stopping the spread of coronavirus – this includes delivering 3.3 billion items of PPE to the front line with 31 billion items ordered, NHS Test and Trace testing hundreds of thousands of people every day, and almost 360,000 people contacted who may have been unwittingly spreading the virus.
She added the Prime Minister had announced a further £3 billion of winter funding to relieve winter pressure on the NHS.