National Records of Scotland

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Winter Mortality in Scotland - 2012/13

Winter Mortality in Scotland - 2012/13

Wednesday, 23 Oct 2013
Demography News Release Image

The number of deaths registered in Scotland during winter 2012/13 was the sixth lowest since records began more than 60 years ago.

Figures released today by the National Records of Scotland show there were 19,908 deaths registered in Scotland in the four months to March 2013. While this was more than the number registered during the same period in 2011/12, it was still the sixth lowest number of deaths registered in Scotland in the winter since records began in 1951/52 (winter 2011/12 had the lowest figure: 19,119).

The 19,908 deaths registered in the four winter months of 2012/13 exceeded both the 17,773 deaths in the preceding four-month period and the 18,045 deaths in the following four-month period.

The seasonal difference (comparing the four winter months with the average of the four-month periods before and after the winter, and rounding the result) was 2,000 for winter 2012/13. This was about 600 more than the corresponding figure of 1,420 for winter 2011/12. However, it was the fourth lowest figure of any of the 62 winters for which these statistics have been produced (the 1,420 for winter 2011/12 was the lowest value). The last thirteen years have had eight out of the twelve lowest figures in the 62 winters for which these statistics are available.

Commenting on ‘Winter Mortality in Scotland - 2012/13’, Tim Ellis, Chief Executive of the National Records of Scotland, said:

"There are always more deaths in the winter in Scotland than in any other season, but last year had one of the lowest seasonal increases since we started collecting this data, in 1951/52. Only three other years have been lower.

"The long-term trend over the last 60 years or so has clearly been downward, although the five-year moving average, which smoothes out much of the year-to-year fluctuation, show relatively little change in recent years, at around 2,500 ‘additional’ winter deaths.

"There is no single cause of additional deaths in winter. Very few are caused by hypothermia and only a small proportion by influenza. Most are from respiratory and circulatory diseases such as pneumonia, coronary heart disease and stroke.”

Figure 1 on the NRS website shows how the seasonal increase in mortality, and the 5-year moving average, have tended (in general) to decline since winter 1951/52 - and that there have been some considerable year-to-year fluctuations.

The full publication ‘Winter Mortality in Scotland 2012/13’ is available on the NRS(GROS) website.