Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020

Prostate deaths at home rise by 50% since beginning of year

The number of men dying from prostate cancer at home has roughly doubled since the start of the year.

Alarming figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the impact coronavirus is having on health services across England and Wales.

Since the start of the pandemic, deaths from heart disease among males at home have been 26% higher than the five year average. Meanwhile bowel cancer deaths are up 46%.

For women, deaths in private homes from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have increased 75% while deaths from breast cancer are up 47%.

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All figures cover deaths that were registered between March 14 and September 11.

In Wales, deaths in private homes for males from heart disease are up 23% on the five-year average, prostate cancer deaths have increased 75% and bowel cancer deaths are up 52%.

The number of female deaths in private homes from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is almost double the five-year average (up 92%) while deaths from breast cancer are up 28%.

ONS head of mortality analysis Sarah Caul said: ‘While deaths in hospitals and care homes have dropped below the five-year average since the initial peak of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve consistently seen deaths in private homes remain well above the five-year average.

‘We have seen an overall increase of deaths as well as a redistribution of various causes of death.

‘For instance, while deaths of heart disease are below average in hospital, it has been above average at home.

‘It’s a similar picture when looking at prostate cancer for males and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for females.

‘Unlike the high numbers of deaths involving Covid-19 in hospitals and care homes, the majority of deaths in private homes are unrelated to Covid-19.’

Earlier this month the NHS launched its ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign to combat a rising backlog of cancer cases during the pandemic.

Celebrities including Gordon Ramsay and Dame Emma Thompson backed the initiative, encouraging people to get checked out if they think they might have cancer and insisting they are not a ‘burden’ to the health service.

Chairman of the University of Cambridge’s Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter said: ‘Over 25,000 extra home deaths have occurred this year, particularly from ischaemic heart disease, diabetes and dementia and alzheimers.

‘Usually around 300 people die each day in their homes in England and Wales – the latest ONS analysis confirms that even after the peak of the epidemic this has stayed at around 400 a day and shows no sign of declining – that’s one-third extra, very few of which are from Covid.

‘Non-Covid deaths in hospital have correspondingly declined, suggesting most of these deaths would normally have occurred in hospital, and people have either been reluctant to go, discouraged from attending, or the services have been disrupted.

‘It is unclear how many of these lives could have been extended had they gone to hospital, for example among the 450 extra deaths from cardiac arrhythmias.

‘Crucially, the ONS data cannot tell us about the quality of these deaths, particularly in terms of the end-of-life care provided to the patients and the support for their families.’

Figures released earlier this month by NHS England revealed more than 111,000 people have been waiting more than a year for routine hospital treatment, with procedures down 43% in August compared to 2019.

The year-on-year decrease recorded in July was 55%, and in June the drop was 67%.

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