Revealed: Barnet neighbourhoods with highest Covid-19 death toll

Barnet’s neighbourhoods worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic have been revealed in the first annual death toll of the virus.
By Alex Ross and Bella Saltiel

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Barnet’s neighbourhoods worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic have been revealed in the first annual death toll of the virus.

The data published by the Office for National Statistics shows that people living in the poorest areas are more likely to die from the disease compared to those in the most affluent. Crowded living conditions and low-paid jobs are among the factors, claim the Institute of Health Equity, which says lives could have been saved if better safety measures were imposed.

In the twelve months from March last year, 843 people in Barnet died due to Covid-19, according to the ONS figures – a rate of 256 per 100,000 people. The peak month for deaths was April when 321 were recorded.

Across London, 16,936 people lost their lives to the virus – 280 deaths per 100,000 people.

The figures also show which of Barnet’s 41 neighbourhoods saw the most and fewest deaths of residents over the twelve-month period. Factors behind a larger number can include the number of care homes in a particular area.

The neighbourhoods with the highest number of deaths:

Friern Barnet – 56

North Finchley – 38

West Hendon – 32

The neighbourhoods with the fewest number of deaths:

Childs Hill – two

Church End – ten

Colindale – ten

Mill Hill Park – ten

Asked why some areas are worse affected than others, Barnet’s Director of Public Health, Dr Tamara Djuretic, said:

“There are multiple factors that impact on high mortality such as level of the infection, a higher number of people at risk of severe illness and fatality and the presence of long-term conditions and age, as well as vaccination uptake levels. Therefore, there is no one answer to this.

We have not done a detailed analysis about this and the data presented is in absolute numbers rather than rates however preliminary evidence suggests that higher Covid-19 mortality rates in some wards could be related to a higher proportion of elderly people living in those wards coupled potentially with some large care settings situated in Friern Barnet, for example.”

As well as providing local-level data, the ONS statistics also showed the wide disparity in the pandemic’s impact on different communities. The most deprived areas across England had death rates related to Covid-19 of more than double that of the most affluent parts – 331 per 100,000 compared to 137 over the twelve-month period from March last year.

The Institute of Health Equity said those in deprived areas were more likely to be key or low-paid economy workers, meaning they were less able to work from home and were at greater risk of infection. It also said they were more likely to be living in crowded accommodation.

Senior advisor Peter Goldblatt said:

“Earlier and stricter lockdown would have saved lives disproportionately in deprived areas. However, to do this effectively would have required greater support to key workers and those in the gig economy.

This is both in terms of more generous and wider furlough and improved supply of PPE and other safety measures both in the workplace, in the community and while travelling to and from work.”

The Health Foundation is examining the impact of the pandemic on health equalities as part of its Covid-19 Impact Inquiry, with the findings to be reported to the government in the summer.

Senior research fellow, Merhrunisha Suleman, said:

“Long term concerted policy effort could have helped to reduce these underlying health inequalities but in the last decade the focus has shifted towards addressing acute need rather than investing in longer-term determinants of our health.”

The Department for Health and Social Care highlighted that the higher rate of deaths in the most deprived areas was not just confined to those caused by Covid-19. The department said the government was committed to levelling up health outcomes.

A spokesperson said: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our condolences go out to everyone who has lost a loved one.

“We know this pandemic has caused financial hardship for many people across the country, and we have acted decisively to make sure nobody is left behind, with extensive support for people on low-pay to help them through this period.

“We have some of the highest vaccine uptake rates in the world but we are going further, recently publishing detailed plans so people from all communities get the right information about vaccine safety so they take up the offer of a jab when it comes, protecting themselves and their loved ones.”

The figures are for recorded deaths where Covid-19 was registered as the main cause. The rate of deaths is age-standardised, which means they account for age and population size.

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