More York people are dying from heart attacks, strokes and mental health issues since the pandemic struck

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a rise in people dying from other health problems including mental health issues, strokes and heart attacks.

And there has been an increase in residents dying from illnesses in their own homes.

A public health report says coroners across the region have also seen a small number of suicide inquests opened linked to the mental health impact of lockdown.

It says: “In York, the proportion of deaths so far this year from two conditions sensitive to timely urgent care, [heart attacks, also known as an MI] and stroke, have risen compared to 2019, and the proportion of these deaths which occurred at home has also increased.

“Yorkshire Ambulance Service have reported significantly more callouts to patients ‘dead at scene’, suggesting some people may be avoiding seeking timely urgent care.”

Health bosses from across the city will look at the long term effects of the pandemic at a meeting tomorrow.

Focus on inequality

Rachael Maskell

The report says the pandemic has already had a “significant impact” on deaths from all causes. And that people who have had coronavirus may take a long time to recover – and may need rehabilitation in neurological, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions as well as mental health support.

Rachael Maskell MP for York Central said the pressures mean health services will need more resources.

She also said the impact on children and young people should be addressed – particularly the stress that returning to school could provoke.

Julian Sturdy MP for York Outer said he is encouraged to see health bosses examining and planning to tackle the long term impacts of the pandemic.

He said he is working with hospital leaders and the Health Secretary on tackling the backlog of cancelled surgical procedures and routine appointments.

Ms Maskell said: “Covid-19 has exposed many weaknesses in the provision and delivery of health care in our communities as well as the immediate risks of the pandemic, whether directly health or as a consequences of the economic situation.

“The backlog in health consultations and interventions will demand more resources, while the consequences of the pandemic on the mental wellbeing of people will need the whole provision of mental health services rethinking.”

She said Covid-19 had hit people in different ways.

“The Health Needs Assessment needs to give a greater focus to inequality and Covid-19 recovery.

“With further challenges ahead with the expected high levels of unemployment in the city, York must be prepared to support all who find themselves as having need – for food, fuel or living costs.”

Economic downturn

Julian Sturdy

Mr Sturdy said: “Fundamentally, one of the best ways to mitigate future health impacts of the virus is for York to return as close to normal social and economic life as possible, as rapidly as it is safe to do so.

“This will keep our community healthy and sane, and prevent long-term social scarring.

“It is encouraging that York’s authorities are carefully assessing the current and longer-term impacts of the pandemic on our city, and proposing potential mitigations that local representatives like me can take up with the government.

“I am glad this report highlights the risk posed by the wave of delayed and cancelled routine care and surgery storing up health problems among residents, and have already been taking action on this issue, contacting the leadership of York Hospital NHS Trust about their schedule for resuming routine operations, and pressing the Health Secretary on the resumption of normal dental services.

York Hospital. Photograph: YorkMix

“The government’s awarding of £1.39 million of new money to City of York Council last week to cover covid costs was a reassuring sign that our city will get the resources it needs to meet the challenges outlined in this report.

“I agree with the report’s suggestion that York’s authorities need to be aware of the potential health impact of an economic downturn driven by coronavirus, and they should support local businesses to rebuild safely with health precautions to minimise this impact.

“Higher unemployment could worsen mental health and crime levels, which is why we must focus on restarting the local economy to save as many livelihoods as possible.”