In the week leading up to January 12, 17,381 deaths were recorded, 2,837 more than the average for this time of year. The higher-than-usually-expected death toll was the highest since the second wave of Covid in February 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The virus accounted for just five percent of the excess, meaning the surge was due to other factors.
In the week leading up to August 5, almost 30,000 additional deaths were recorded in England and Wales.
Veena Raleigh, senior fellow at think tank The King’s Fund, said reasons include “unmet health needs during the pandemic” and “an unprecedented strain on NHS services.”
Some of the deaths are thought to be related to patients delaying seeking care in the midst of Covid and then failing in their health.
Influenza infections have also risen this winter after two years of very low levels.
Influenza and pneumonia deaths accounted for almost a quarter of those reported in England and Wales in the first two weeks of the year.
The extreme pressure on the NHS is also being blamed for hundreds of deaths each week.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine estimates that between 300 and 500 people die a week as a result of emergency care delays. NHS England disputed these figures.
Dr. Adrian Boyle, president of the college, told MPs on the House of Commons Committee on Health and Welfare yesterday: “If you look at performance numbers, by all accounts, what happened in December was terrible.”
He added: “Many nurses, especially experienced nurses, are leaving en masse.
“We are losing blood to experienced ER nurses because they get very frustrated.
“The problem is not that there is too much work, but that they cannot do the job they have been taught.”
Health Secretary Steve Barclay has been called “half human, half ostrich” due to excess mortality data.
Labor Shadow Health Minister Andrew Gwynn told the House of Commons: “There were 50,000 more deaths in 2022 than we might have expected.
“Without taking into account the pandemic, this is the worst figure since 1951. The half-human, half-ostrich health minister says he doesn’t accept these numbers, but up to 500 people die every week while waiting for the help they need, and we’re still facing the same old Tory denial and blame-shifting.”