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Britain’s excess death rate is at a disastrous high – and the causes go far beyond Covid | Owen Jones

A deadly, avoidable crisis is under way, fuelled by NHS cuts, the neglect of social care, inequality and the soaring cost of living

When most people hear that phrase “humanitarian crisis”, they think “abroad”, “somewhere far away”, and certainly not in Britain. But how else to describe the tens of thousands of bodies avoidably piling up in the nation’s mortuaries? One funeral home worker says that they’ve run out of spaces for the deceased and “are having to keep some encoffined in office rooms”; another hospital porter reports that the mortuary has been near capacity for two weeks. This national issue should be splashed on every front page and leading every bulletin. It isn’t: why?

Last year in the UK there were nearly 40,000 excess deaths – that is, deaths above a five-year average. That’s nearly as many as were killed by the Luftwaffe in the blitz. In the last two weeks of 2022, deaths were a fifth higher than the average from 2016 to 2019 (the last pre-pandemic year), and that’s taking into account factors such as a bigger, ageing population.

Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist

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