A North Yorkshire county councillor who works as a funeral director has claimed that it is “absolute rubbish” to say 130,000 have died of Covid-19 in the UK.
Cllr Andrew Jenkinson said that deaths had been wrongly recorded and said put the blame at the feet of “inept” doctors.
Cllr Jenkinson was speaking at a meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s Scarborough Area Committee on Friday where he put his concerns to Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill.
The current number of deaths within 28 Days of positive Covid-19 test is 126,615, and 148,125 people had Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate.
Cllr Jenkinson, who is also a funeral director in Scarborough, told Mr Goodwill that other European countries had “lied” about their death figures.
He said: “They say 130,000 people passed away, approximately, of Covid, to me that is absolute rubbish and I will tell you why it is rubbish.
“It is because as a funeral director, we have [seen] so many cases that have been put down as Covid and they have died of other things.
“So we have actually been very, very good, telling [it] as it is but even more [so[ and I think the rest of Europe have lied.
“I bet their figures are a lot higher. The problem with the UK is that we are so honest.”
In response, Mr Goodwill said that he runs a green burial site and had been told by one family that “it says Covid on the death certificate but we don’t think that actually is the case”.
Conservative MP Mr Goodwill, who is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Funerals and Bereavement, added: “At the beginning of the pandemic, you may recall we were saying that anybody who’d ever had a positive test who died will be down as a Covid death.
“So you could have the disease last March and you could be run over by a bus in July and that would have gone down as a Covid death so they took the decision to say deaths within 28 days of a positive test. But that has problems.”
Cllr Jenkinson, who was elected as a Conservative but who now sits as an independent, went on to claim that doctors had been signing death certificates as Covid deaths without ever seeing the patients.
He added: “First and foremost, you do not need two doctors to certificate a death now since Covid came in, you only need one.
“This is not to have a go at anybody but the doctors. I think the doctors in the NHS have been brilliant but the actual doctors in your practices have been quite inept in the early stages.
“There still are problems where they will not come and see the death of a person to clarify everything, so they’re going through and [the cause of death] has been put down as Covid.”
Mr Goodwill said the true measure for deaths would be excess deaths compared to the five year average and said the UK was performing better than other European countries.
He said: “We get a lot of criticism in the UK because we are quite a big country.
“In Belgium the death rate has been way ahead of ours all the way through but because it is a small country, those who choose to write newspaper articles or report in the media would not pick on Belgium because although their figures are higher as a percentage they are lower numerically.”
Public Health England has two criteria for classifying a death as Covid related. The first is a death in a person with a laboratory-confirmed positive Covid-19 test and either died within 60 days of the first specimen date or died more than 60 days after the first specimen date, only if Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate
The second is a death in a person with a laboratory-confirmed positive Covid-19 test who died within 28 days of the first positive specimen date.
North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group declined to comment on Cllr Jenkinson’s claims.