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As readers will be aware, in the early years of the adverse mortality trends it was postulated that this may be due to UK government austerity. Using data at local authority level in England, Wales and Scotland this hypothesis has been questioned , and looks to have been a case of (inadvertent) correlation and not causation. This paper  also makes reference to the contribution from a series of influenza epidemics which coincidentally occurred in the austerity years.
It has also been pointed out that the use of calendar year data has been acting to conceal complex spatiotemporal patterns affecting deaths which resemble outbreaks of an infectious agent (influenza excluded as the causative agent) [2,3]. For this very reason the Office for National Statistics has begun publishing quarterly mortality data for England .
Since age standardized mortality is a single measure of mortality (with inherent assumptions), it is suggested that wider measures including single year of age patterns may need to be investigated.
As pointed out by the Scottish study, further research is indeed required.
1. Jones R. Austerity in the UK and poor health: Were deaths directly affected. British Journal of Healthcare Management 2019; 25(11): in press
2. Jones R. The calendar year fallacy: the danger of reliance on calendar year data in end-of-life capacity and financial planning. International Journal Health Planning Management 2019; doi: 10.1002/hpm.2838...
2. Jones R. The calendar year fallacy: the danger of reliance on calendar year data in end-of-life capacity and financial planning. International Journal Health Planning Management 2019; doi: 10.1002/hpm.2838
3. Jones R. Unexplained periods of higher deaths contribute to marginal changes in health care demand and health insurance costs: International perspectives. International Journal Health Planning Management 2019; in press.
4. Office for National Statistics. Quarterly mortality report, England. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarri...