As excess deaths in Britain soar, MPs are calling for an urgent investigation.
About 17,381 deaths were registered in England and Wales in seven days of January 2023, which is 2,837 above average for the time of year.
This is the highest number of excess deaths since 3,429 in the week to Feb. 12, 2021, when the UK was rolling out its COVID-19 vaccines.
"There were 50,000 more deaths than we would have otherwise expected in 2022. Excluding the pandemic, that is the worst figure since 1951," said the Labour's shadow public health minister Andrew Gwynne Tuesday.
"The Health Secretary — part-man, part-ostrich — says he doesn't accept those figures, but as many as 500 people are dying every week waiting for essential care and we're still getting the same old Tory denial and buck-passing."
The UK's winter has seen a sharp spike in excess deaths, which are a total of 20% above average in the last two weeks of December, followed by 14% and 20% in the first two weeks of January.
In response to Gwynne's comments, UK Health minister Maria Caulfield replied she preferred to deal with facts.
"The [British Medical Journal] has ranked the UK mid-table in Europe for mortality figures, comparable with Italy," she said.
"In fact, Germany has got higher excess deaths at 15.6%, Finland at 20.5%, and Poland at 13.3%," Caulfield replied, adding there are "clinical reasons for excess deaths, not political ones."
Conservative MP Esther McVey pointed out that while the National Health Service said non-COVID excess deaths are being driven by patients not getting statins or blood pressure medicines during the pandemic, openprescribing.net does not show there has been a drop in the medications being given.
"So where is the evidence? And if there isn't any, then what is causing these excess deaths? Will the minister commit to an urgent and thorough investigation on the matter?" she asked.
Caulfield replied that the excess deaths in Britain are also being seen in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and across Europe.
"There's an increase as we saw in December in the number of people being admitted with flu, with COVID and with other healthcare conditions, and this is not something just seen in this country but across Europe as well," she said.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who was ejected from the party for comparing COVID-19 vaccines to the Holocaust, told lawmakers the Office for National Statistics has not issued mortality data by vaccination status since the May 31, 2022.
"Can the minster confirm her department has collected this data for the rest of 2022, and inform the house of when it will be published?" he asked.
Caulfield replied that she would be happy to provide Bridgen with that information. "But can I just be clear we absolutely planned for an increase in admissions this winter," she said.
"That's why we delivered plans for 7,000 extra beds, brought forward our flu and COVID vaccination program, and lowered the age for those who are eligible."