OLDHAM’S death toll during the last year of the coronavirus pandemic was hundreds higher than during previous years.

That is according to Public Health England data that compares the number of deaths registered during the last year with how many were predicted based on previous mortality rates.

The area saw 2,596 deaths from any cause registered between March 21 last year – just days before the UK’s first lockdown – and March 19 this year.

That was 492 more than the 2,104 predicted based on the previous five years.

It means there were 23.4 per cent more deaths than expected – higher than the England average of 20 per cent.

So-called “excess deaths” are considered a better measure of the overall impact of Covid-19 than simply looking at mortality directly linked to the virus, as they capture deaths that may have been indirectly caused by the crisis, and are not affected by changes in the level of testing.

Over the same period, there were 709 deaths in Oldham with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate.

The Oldham neighbourhood with the most deaths in the 12 months from March last year, was Chadderton Central with 49, according to data by the Office for National Statistics. The areas of Alt and Lime Side and Garden Suburb meanwhile had the fewest at seven.

In response to the findings, Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, called Covid-19 “a disease of poverty,” which has exposed “ingrained inequalities” across society and triggered fears that areas including Oldham will be further ‘levelled down’.

Jim McMahon, MP for Oldham West and Royton added that in Oldham life expectancy can “fluctuate depending on which ward you live in.”

The deputy leader of Oldham Council, Arooj Shah, who has led the council’s Covid response, said Oldham has had a high number of Covid-19 cases throughout the pandemic as there are “more people who work in frontline roles, more people who live in larger household groups, more people who can’t work from home, and more residents who are self-employed”.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said there were “complex and deep-rooted” reasons why certain areas have been hit harder by the pandemic than others.