Commenting on the winter mortality rates in Scotland out today, Dr Gerry McCartney, Head of the Public Health Observatory at NHS Health Scotland said:

“The rise in winter mortality provides another warning about progress in improving Scotland’s health. As we would expect, the flu is an important factor in hastening deaths in winter, especially for vulnerable groups, and we encourage all people who are eligible to take the opportunity to have the flu vaccination.

“However, flu-like illness is unlikely to be the cause of death on its own, or indeed the only explanation. Factors, including poor long-term health and underlying influences such as poverty and austerity may all be relevant.

“The rest of the UK, the USA and some other European countries are seeing similar trends in winter deaths, but other countries are not. These deaths are not inevitable. It is therefore vitally important that we work across sectors and agencies to understand the cause of the increase in winter deaths – especially against the backdrop of stalled progress in life expectancy in Scotland and a rise in health inequalities – so that we can prevent them.

“With collective effort for a fairer healthier Scotland, we can better tackle the factors that lie behind the sharp rise in winter deaths. This work will bring forward recommendations for further effective measures to ensure that everyone can enjoy their right to the highest attainable standard of health.”

 

For more information on health inequalities, visit our web pages on health inequality.

You can download the winter mortality report from the National Records of Scotland website [external website].