COVID led to a dramatic increase in winter deaths in East Renfrewshire, new figures reveal.

Provisional data from National Records of Scotland show 360 people died in the local area between last December and March, compared with 336 in the same period in 2019/20 and 328 in 2018/19.

That total is expected to rise once all of the death registrations for last winter are received.

The figures also show a steady increase in East Renfrewshire deaths during lockdown periods, with 271 recorded between April and July last year and 302 between August and November.

Age Scotland has raised concerns about the number of excess winter deaths, highlighting the devastating impact that coronavirus has had on older people.

Brian Sloan, the charity’s chief executive, said: “These are not just statistics – each one will be desperately missed by their family.

“We know health and social care services were under incredible strain over the winter, working flat out to care for people at a very difficult time, but we have already expressed concerns about the removal of social care packages, with too many people struggling to access the care they needed in their communities.

“This is likely to have had serious consequences, especially on those living with dementia.”