Unexpected rise in deaths among older patients – what could be the cause?

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f4795 (Published 29 July 2013)

Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4795
Deaths among older people have risen markedly since the beginning of 2012, prompting Public Health England to launch an investigation into what is causing the rise.

Experts are divided over what could have caused the increase in mortality. There is speculation that cuts to the NHS and social care budgets have had a detrimental impact on services for older people and triggered more deaths. But others say that life expectancy may simply be starting to plateau or that the rise could be a natural fluctuation in statistics, perhaps prompted by unusual weather patterns.

The increased deaths are revealed in an internal report prepared by Public Health England using weekly all-cause death registrations data from the Office for National Statistics, which has been seen by the BMJ.

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