National Records of Scotland figures show total winter deaths in the area nearly doubled in the last year, from 230 in 2013/14 to 430 in 2014/15, which is the biggest leap since 2006/07.

Independent Aberdeenshire Councillor Paul Johnston said the figures should be a wake-up call.

He said:  “From my own perspective, if the figures are showing an increase it’s a signal for councillors to review things.

“It’s a warning signal for councils to take action  –  we need to find out what the reasons are.

“If there are more people using food banks because of benefits changes and that drops people’s nutritional intake that will affect mortality.”

Cllr Johnston said he didn’t think the dramatic rise in winter deaths could be solely due to colder temperatures.

Mortality in the winter for those people aged over 85 saw a rise from 110 in 2013/14 to 260 in 2014/15  – another ten-year high.

For those aged 75-84, deaths rose from 60 to 100, and for 65-74 year olds from 50 to 60, in the same period.

Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood said: “While the number of winter deaths is the total that occur throughout the community and are not specifically related to healthcare, it is crucial our NHS prepares thoroughly for the extra pressures winter clearly brings.”

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