Gloucester saw a big increase in recorded deaths in 2020 compared to the average for the previous five years, analysis of official figures shows.

Office for National Statistics data shows 1,282 deaths were registered in Gloucester last year – 140 more than the annual average of 1,142 between 2015 and 2019.

That was a rise of 12% – still slightly lower than the average of 14% across England and Wales.

They were among the 61,200 recorded across the South West, which was around 4,200 higher than the preceding five-year average.

Health experts have repeatedly said “excess deaths” are a better measure of the overall impact of the coronavirus pandemic than simply looking at mortality directly linked to Covid-19.

This is because they capture deaths that may have been indirectly caused by the crisis, either due to people finding it harder to access medical care for other conditions, or avoiding help altogether.

Across England and Wales, 608,000 deaths were registered last year – 76,000 higher than the average for 2015 to 2019.

Health charity The King’s Fund described last year's death toll across England and Wales as "extraordinary" and is calling for a public inquiry to look at the Government’s handling of the pandemic.

Veena Raleigh, senior fellow at The King’s Fund, said the ONS figures represented a “extraordinary death toll”.

“Of course, the pandemic is not over yet and there are still more deaths to come,” she said.

“At some stage, we hope there will be a public inquiry that will look at mistakes that could have been avoided.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “Every death is a tragedy and our deepest sympathies go to the families and loved ones of those who have died.

“Throughout the global pandemic the NHS has remained open for urgent care and we continue to urge anyone who needs healthcare to come forward.”