Renfrewshire’s most recent winter death toll was the highest in more than a decade...with a leading doctor predicting that worse could follow this year.

A total of 880 deaths were recorded in the local council area between December and March, compared to 759 for the same period in 2021/22 and 622 in 2010/11.

The main causes, according to National Records of Scotland (NRS), were Alzheimer’s and dementia, followed by Covid.

The only period since 2011 when there were more deaths in Renfrewshire was between April and July 2020, due to the pandemic.

Renfrewshire’s death figures for the winter of 2022/23 were in line with the national trend.

Across Scotland as a whole, there were 24,427 deaths last winter – the highest since 1990.

Daniel Burns, head of vital events statistics at NRS, said: “Older age groups are consistently the most affected by increased mortality in winter.

“For people aged 85 and over, there were 29 per cent more winter deaths, compared to 12 per cent in the under-65 population.”

Age Scotland has described the high number of deaths last winter as “extremely concerning.”

A spokesperson for the charity said: “The combination of the cost-of-living crisis, pressures on health and social care services and spikes in flu and Covid-19 have had a severe impact, particularly on older people.

“We’re aware that many older people have faced difficulty accessing the health and social care they need, which may have led to conditions becoming more severe due to delays in diagnosis and treatment.

“Many have also struggled to meet the increasing cost of heating their homes to a safe level, increasing the risk of serious medical emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes.”

Dr Iain Kennedy, chair of BMA (British Medical Association) Scotland, predicts an even higher number of winter deaths in 2023/24.

He said: “We are in a year-round crisis with our NHS and workforce planning is abysmal.

“We simply do not have the staff – be that doctors, nurses or allied health professionals – to cope with the rising levels of demand and we are heading into what I expect will be our worst winter ever.”

The Scottish Government has said that, while seasonal variations in winter mortality fluctuate year-on-year, it is “well known” that communities “experience health, quality of life and even life expectancy differently across our society.”

It added that new strategies and action plans are in place for the likes of dementia and heart disease.

A spokesperson said: “We continue to work with our partners, including Public Health Scotland and National Records of Scotland, to understand what is needed at a national and regional level to support local, preventative action to drive improvements in population health.”