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Death rate fell below five-year average in December, data shows

There were 5,754 deaths in Scotland in December 2023 (Alamy/PA)
There were 5,754 deaths in Scotland in December 2023 (Alamy/PA)

The number and rate of deaths in December was lower than the five-year average, figures show.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) monthly mortality report says there were 5,754 deaths in December 2023, 4% less than the five-year average.

The age standardised rate, which takes into account the size and age structure of the population, was 1,308 deaths per 100,000 – a 9% decrease on the five-year average.

NRS vital events statistician Beth Watson said: “The mortality rate in December was 9% lower than the five-year average.

“This is statistically significant. The five-year average includes 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022. 2020 has been removed from the average due to the highly unusual number of deaths in that first year of the pandemic.

“The leading cause of death remains dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which accounted for 13% of all deaths in December.

“This is also the leading cause of death for females. For males, the leading cause of death was ischaemic heart disease.”

The statistics also show the number of deaths in November was 5,237, a 2% increase on the five-year average for the month.

The age standardised rate was 1,139 per 100,000 – 3% lower than the five-year average.

A cyber crime incident affecting the Western Isles meant limited death registration data has been available from the area since November.

However, due to its small population, researchers say it is unlikely it will have a significant impact on the national statistics, but the overall figures will be updated when the data is available.