Number of avoidable deaths in Scotland increased by almost 10% in 2020

Avoidable deaths in Scotland have increased by 10% – with coronavirus deaths in those aged under 75 having “helped to drive this increase”.

Of the 64,093 deaths which were registered in Scotland in 2020, a total of 17,153 (27%) were considered avoidable.

That is up from 15,520 avoidable deaths in 2019 – with analysis also indicating that without Covid-10, there would have been 15,686 avoidable deaths in 2020.

The figures were contained in a new report from National Records of Scotland (NRS), which found the rate of avoidable mortality increased by 9% in 2020 – with this being the first statistically significant increase since 2015, when the rate increased by 3%.

The report stated: “The rate of avoidable deaths in 2020 was 9% higher than the previous year. This increase was largely due to Covid-19 deaths.”

Cancers and circulatory diseases were the most common causes of avoidable deaths over the course of the year.

But the report revealed that alcohol and drug-related avoidable mortality rates increased for the ninth year in a row.

Meanwhile, avoidable able mortality rates in the most deprived parts of Scotland were nearly four times the rates of those in the least deprived areas.

And Scotland continued to have a higher avoidable mortality rate than both England and Wales.

The inclusion of Covid-19 as an avoidable cause of death has contributed to the increased rate of avoidable mortality seen in 2020

Julie Ramsay, National Records of Scotland

The report looked at avoidable deaths in Scotland, with this looking only at deaths in those under the age of 75, and including deaths that could have been prevented through measures such as public health interventions, and those that could have been avoided by timely and effective treatment.

The rate of avoidable mortality in Scotland rose to 336 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020 – a rise of 9%.

But, in the most deprived areas, the avoidable mortality rate was 634 per 100,000 people – meaning people there were 3.9 times as likely to die avoidably when compared to the least deprived communities, where the avoidable death rate was 162 per 100,000 people.

NRS also found the avoidable mortality rate in Scotland was higher than that in England (257 deaths per 100,000 people) and Wales (287 deaths per 100,000 people), as well as being higher than the British average of 266 deaths per 100,000 people.

The report said: “This continues the historic trend of Scotland having higher avoidable mortality rates, although the gap between Scotland and the GB average narrowed slightly in the 2020.

“All GB nations experienced statistically significant increases in 2020.”

Julie Ramsay, head of vital events statistics at NRS, said: “The avoidable mortality rate in Scotland fell between 2003 and 2014, but remained fairly stable from then until 2019.

“The inclusion of Covid-19 as an avoidable cause of death has contributed to the increased rate of avoidable mortality seen in 2020.”

She added: “Avoidable alcohol and drug-related deaths continued to increase, but there were fewer avoidable deaths from cancers and respiratory illnesses than in previous years.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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