FIGURES obtained by the Chronicle reveal just 26 Barnsley Hospital patients had Covid-19 recorded as their sole cause of death over a two-year period.

According to government statistics, the town has the worst death rate of any upper tier local authority in the country at 403.5 per 100,000 residents.

More than 1,000 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test - 970 of which were registered before December 31.

However, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by the Chronicle - which asked for the number of deaths due to ‘Covid-19 only’ in Barnsley Hospital - reveals just 26 died solely from the virus between January 2020 and December 2021.

It said: “Between the dates of January 2020 and December 2021, 453 patients had Covid-19 only in part 1a of their death certificate and nothing else in either 1a, 1b or 1c - these are patients whose cause of death is solely and directly due to Covid-19.

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“They may have had other long-standing conditions, but these are either not on the certificate or listed as contributory factors or, in other words, if they didn’t have Covid-19 they wouldn’t have died when they did.

“A total of 123 patients had Covid-19 only in part 1b or 1c of their death certificate - these are patients that have died of conditions directly and solely as a result of Covid-19, such as organ failure, and therefore wouldn’t have died when they did if they didn’t have Covid-19.

“Twenty-six patients had Covid-19 as the only condition listed anywhere on the certificate.”

According to Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures released earlier this month, death rates in England and Wales have predominantly involved older age groups, with 70 to 90-year-olds accounting for the most fatalities, or those living with underlying health issues.

Barnsley’s public health boss Julia Burrows added: “The council and its health partners have been monitoring all aspects of Covid-19 data closely, particularly mortality rates.

“We know that the Barnsley population is at a higher risk of severe illness and death from this disease as we have an older population and higher rates of chronic diseases such as heart and lung disease.

“We have seen a significant shift in the pattern of those in hospital: although there is still a high number of people admitted with Covid-19, those patients who have been vaccinated are much more likely to have been admitted for a reason other than Covid, whereas the majority of those inpatients who have received only one or no vaccine are being admitted as a result of being unwell with Covid.

“We have also seen a big fall in the proportion of community cases being admitted to hospital and who have sadly died after an admission, compared to earlier in the pandemic, reflecting the ongoing evidence of vaccine effectiveness against severe disease and death.

“While case rates are still high in Barnsley at the same time as restrictions are being lifted, it’s more important than ever to continue with the safe behaviours we all know can help avoid becoming infected.

“This includes getting both vaccines and your booster, letting fresh air in if you meet indoors, meeting outdoors where possible, getting tested, and self-isolating if required, staying at home if you are feeling unwell and regularly washing your hands.

“It’s also still highly worthwhile to choose to continue wearing masks in crowded and indoor public spaces to protect yourself and others from infection and illness.

“Some settings such as supermarkets and transport providers may ask people to wear a face covering to help protect staff and customers.”

* The Chronicle asked Barnsley Hospital for a comment on the figures, but a spokesperson said the NHS trust ‘support’ the council’s comment and won’t be issuing anything separately.