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‘It’s an incredibly high mortality rate’ – Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín wants investigation into excess deaths reported this year

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 05/12/2022 Eilish O'Regan

The HSE has been called on to do a proper analysis of excess deaths in Ireland and whether they are linked to delays in treatment for non-Covid illnesses and other disruption during the pandemic.

The number of deaths in quarter two this year rose by 39.2pc compared to the same period in 2021, according to the Central Statistics Office, which said delay in notification due to the cyber attack should be considered when looking at the figures.

Of those deaths, 6.7pc were Covid-related, with cancer and circulatory disease the biggest killers.

Deaths can take up to 12 weeks to be registered in Ireland which can also skew figures in a particular month. However, unlike the UK, Ireland has yet to provide a detailed report on excess deaths.

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In a parliamentary response to Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín, who asked Health Minister Stephen Donnelly if there is an investigation into trends behind excess deaths in the pandemic years, the director of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) Dr Gregory Martin said: “During August 2022 and the last week of September 2022, low-level excess all-cause mortality was observed in the 75-84 age group in Ireland, which coincides with Covid-19 activity and is attributed to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The latest available excess all-cause mortality data, which includes all registered deaths up to November 13, has shown there were no indications of excess all-cause deaths occurring in Ireland in the last six weeks.

“These data are provisional due to the time delay with death registration in Ireland. A country-specific adjustment function was applied to correct for the typical delay in registrations of deaths in Ireland.

“Nonetheless, estimates of excess mortality for the most recent weeks and months are reported with some uncertainty and should be interpreted with caution.”

Speaking on the issue, Mr Tóibín said: “The figures from Eurostat and the CSO are quite incredible. The former shows that excess deaths in Ireland in July increased by 16pc and the numbers dying in August this year were 17pc higher than the average before Covid hit.

“Last August saw the fifth highest death rate since January 2020, the start of the Covid crisis. The CSO released figures very recently that show that in quarter two there was a 39.2pc increase in deaths compared with the same time last year. Again, an incredibly high mortality rate. I have issued parliamentary questions to try to ascertain what’s going on.”

He pointed to disruption and closures in the areas of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other health services during Covid.

“When I query the CSO-reported spike in deaths, I am told that this could be as a result of the cyber attack preventing deaths being registered in 2021 – that these deaths were registered instead in 2022,” said Mr Tóibín.

“This may be the case but surely with this level of human mortality, we should know for sure. There should be an investigation into what’s happening.”

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