Britain is in the grip of a new silent health crisis.
For 14 of the past 15 weeks, England and Wales have averaged around 1,000 extra deaths each week, none of which are due to Covid.
If the current trajectory continues, the number of non-Covid excess deaths will soon outstrip deaths from the virus this year – and be even more deadly than the omicron wave.
So what is going on? Experts believe decisions taken by the Government in the earliest stages of the pandemic may now be coming back to bite.
Policies that kept people indoors, scared them away from hospitals and deprived them of treatment and primary care are finally taking their toll.
Prof Robert Dingwall, of Nottingham Trent University, a former government adviser during the pandemic, said: “The picture seems very consistent with what some of us were suggesting from the beginning.
“We are beginning to see the deaths that result from delay and deferment of treatment for other conditions, like cancer and heart disease, and from those associated with poverty and deprivation.