Date lodged: 15 November 2017
To ask the Scottish Government what analysis it is undertaking in response to reports that more than 2,700 more people died in the winter months of 2016 and 2017 compared to summer months.
Answered by: Shona Robison 29 November 2017
A seasonal increase in deaths is seen each winter in Scotland, across the UK, and across Europe. Previous research has shown Scotland to be about average for Europe in terms of its seasonal increase1.
The long-term trend in the seasonal increase in mortality in the winter has generally been downward. Although there have been unusually large figures in some years (including 4,060 in winter 2014-15), the size of these periodic peaks has also generally appeared to be falling.
As part of their Winter Mortality in Scotland 2016-17 publication, the National Records of Scotland has undertaken and published a range of analysis investigating the seasonal increase in deaths observed in winter.
This includes analysis describing the age of those that died and the causes of death, as well as providing figures for individual NHS Boards and Local Authorities. Also included is analysis presenting winter death rates alongside average winter temperatures and measures of influenza activity. The publication of results for previous winters allows comparisons over time.
1. Healy JD, 2003 - Excess winter mortality in Europe: a cross-country analysis identifying key risk factors. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 57: 784 - 789.