Thank you for contacting me about the excess deaths reported by the Office of National Statistics (ONS); I understand your concerns. I was unable to attend the parliamentary debate on Friday 20th October due to preexisting commitments.
The Government is taking steps to reduce excess deaths (the number of deaths above the five-year average), including those which involve Covid-19. Vaccines remain the first line of defence against Covid-19. Antivirals and other treatments play a crucial role in protecting patients who become infected with Covid-19, particularly those for whom the vaccine may be less effective such as the immunosuppressed.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) followed rigorous procedures to ensure the vaccines met the necessary high standards in safety and efficacy. The MHRA is one of the most respected regulators in the world and I welcome that the World Health Organisation not only backed its approach, but also commended its work.
The Government is preparing for variants of Covid-19 and influenza through the Covid-19 booster and flu vaccination programmes, minimising hospital admissions from both viruses. Going forward, I strongly encourage eligible people to get their booster jab and their flu jab to protect themselves, their loved ones and the NHS.
Clearly, the disruption caused by Covid-19 has had a significant impact on those people who were living with cancer and other major conditions. The Government is taking steps to reduce excess deaths due to these conditions, including through a delivery plan setting out how the NHS will expand elective services over the next three years. The plan commits the NHS to deliver nine million additional treatments and diagnostic procedures over the next three years and around 30 per cent more elective activity than it was doing before the pandemic by 2024/25.
Furthermore, the Government intends to publish a Major Conditions Strategy to tackle conditions that contribute most to morbidity and mortality across the population in England including: cancers; cardiovascular disease, including stroke and diabetes; chronic respiratory diseases; dementia; mental ill health; and musculoskeletal conditions.