DEATHS in Southampton remained higher than 2019 levels in July following similar increases in April, May and June, official figures show.

This was despite a national dip in deaths, although doctors still warn the NHS must be given whatever it needs to deal with a “triple guy whammy” threat of rising cases, winter pressure, and huge patient backlogs.

Office for National Statistics figures show 158 deaths were recorded in Southampton during July.

That was 13 more than the number recorded in July 2019, a rise of 9%.

Southampton also saw a jump in fatalities in the previous month, with 17 more deaths recorded compared to June 2019 – an increase of 14%.

In May, there were 13 extra deaths, a rise of 8%, while April’s death count was up by 100%.

It means that in the year to the end of July there were 199 (19%) more deaths than at the same point last year.

Across England and Wales, there were 40,731 deaths recorded in July, lower than the 42,192 seen a year earlier.

That was the first time deaths had dropped below last year’s level since the start of the pandemic in March.

Overall, 374,013 deaths were recorded between January and the end of July, an increase of 61,179 on the same point in 2019.

The British Medical Association said it was difficult to draw conclusions from the drop in deaths in July.

But its chairman, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, speaking at the group’s annual conference on September 15, said it was “imperative” the Government give the NHS the resources it needs to deal with a “triple whammy of the non-Covid backlog, the ongoing risk of a second spike, and winter pressure”.

Dr Nagpaul said an overstretched NHS had lacked capacity at the start of the pandemic, leaving millions of patients to become “collateral damage” as services were halted.

He said: “The pandemic was a shock to the world, but as coronavirus reached our shores, our overstretched NHS already had record waits for operations, cancer treatments and GP appointments.
"We had 10,000 unfilled doctor vacancies, and only a quarter of Germany’s critical care beds."

A government spokeswoman said: “We have made significant strides in stopping the spread of coronavirus – this includes delivering 3.3 billion items of PPE to the front line with 31 billion items ordered, NHS Test and Trace testing hundreds of thousands of people every day, and almost 360,000 people contacted who may have been unwittingly spreading the virus.

She added the Prime Minister had announced a further £3 billion of winter NHS funding.