DEATHS registered in Barnsley last year plunged to ‘normal’ pre-pandemic levels as Covid-19 dropped out of the top five causes for loss of life, new government figures have revealed.

The Office for National Statistics data shows 2,876 total deaths were registered in Barnsley last year - down from 2,959 the year before and 3,105 in 2020 when the pandemic struck.

Covid-19 dropped out of the top five leading causes of death, accounting for 12.1 per cent and 11.5 per cent of all registered deaths in 2020 and 2021 respectively, but this dropped to just 3.9 per cent in 2022, making it the sixth-highest cause.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease led the way both locally and nationally, accounting for 65,967 deaths across England and Wales - or 11.4 per cent - up from 61,250 in 2021.

The other most prevalent causes of death in 2022 were ischaemic heart diseases, chronic lower respiratory diseases, cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes and aneurysms and trachea, bronchus and lung cancer.

The only group in which the virus appeared in the top five was death among males aged 80 and over, where it was listed as third.

Sarah Caul, ONS head of mortality analysis, said the figures represent a ‘significant change’ in the leading causes of death since the beginning of the pandemic.

“When a death is registered the information, including causes involved in the death, is sent to the different statistical agencies across the UK,” she added.

“For the third year in a row, we’ve seen more males than females dying, a reversal of the trend since the 1980s.

“The fact that 2022 saw a fall in Covid-19 deaths, not a rise, reflects the success of the vaccination programme which has reduced sharply the number of infected people who go on to become seriously ill or die.

“Vaccines were first rolled out across the country in early 2021, with booster doses subsequently made available to older and vulnerable groups.”

However, almost 20 per cent more people died than expected in the three-year timeframe, meaning the town still has an excess death rate well above the 11.1 per cent average across England and Wales.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s deaths rocketed, as did heart-related diseases.

Alzheimer’s Research UK described the figures as ‘a stark reminder of the terrible and far-reaching effects of dementia on our society’.

Samantha Benham-Hermetz, director of policy and public affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, added: “Our most recent survey showed that two in ten people are unaware that dementia is even a cause of death.

“Despite its devastating impact, and in contrast with other leading causes of death like heart disease or cancer, there are still no treatments available on the NHS that can slow or stop it.

“As the impact of the pandemic recedes, we must learn from the lessons of Covid-19 and speed up progress in finding new ways to treat, diagnose and prevent dementia.”