By Sally Wardle, Press Association Health and Science Correspondent
There was a spike in deaths in England as the summer heatwave first gripped the country, new figures reveal.
Between June 21 and June 22 there were 214 fewer deaths than the five-year average for the same period, a quarterly report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.
However, there were 259 more deaths than average in England between June 25 and 26, coinciding with hot weather which triggered a Public Health England (PHE) heatwave alert.
A high of 30.1C (86F) was recorded in London on June 25, making it the UK’s hottest day of the year so far at that point.
Maximum temperatures exceeded 24.5C (76F) until the end of June, above the level at which Public Health England (PHE) warns heat-related deaths may occur.
During that period, there were 382 more deaths in England than the average for the same period between 2013 to 2017.
The ONS quarterly report covers deaths registered in England between April and June.
The next release will examine in detail deaths which might be attributable to the heatwave.
Bob Ward, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said: “It is likely that many of the people who died during the hot weather suffered from underlying illnesses, such as respiratory disease.
“Nonetheless, many of these deaths may have been prevented if buildings were better adapted to prevent overheating.
“The Government has been warned by experts for a number of years that the awareness of the public needed to be raised about the increasing risks of heatwaves due to climate change.
“This summer was the warmest on record in England, and analysis by the Met Office shows that the incidence of heatwave conditions is rising.”
A peak and fall in the number of deaths was also recorded in April, the ONS figures show, coinciding with another spell of hot weather.
There were 243 more deaths in England between April 18 and 19 than the five-year average across the same period, and 378 fewer between April 21 and 23.
St James’ Park in central London recorded the highest temperature in the UK of 2018 on April 19, with the mercury reaching 29.1C (84F).