The impact of registration delays on mortality statistics - new analysis

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10 February 2020
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Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash
The Office for National Statistics has published new analysis of the time taken to register deaths - and the impact of this on mortality statistics.

Since 2001, the median time between a death occurring and being registered (referred to as the “registration delay”) in England and Wales increased from 2 days in 2001 to 5 days in 2018. 

There has been an increase in the proportion of deaths being certified by a doctor and a decrease in deaths being certified by a coroner. However, the proportion of deaths that go to the coroner and require an inquest has increased from 20.1% in 2001 to 32.7% in 2018.

Deaths certified by a coroner after inquest generally take much longer to be registered than the more “routine” deaths certified by a doctor.

The statistics

  • In registration year 2018 73.8% of deaths were registered within 7 calendar days, compared with 92.7% in registration year 2001
  • In registration year 2018, Wales had a higher percentage (82.6%) of deaths registered within 7 days of occurring than any region of England (73.2% in England overall); this was the 7th consecutive year that Wales had a higher proportion of deaths registered within 7 calendar days
  • Within England, the percentage of deaths registered within 7 days was highest in the North East (81.9%) and lowest in the South East (68.2%)
  • Between registration year 2001, when 22.6% of all deaths were registered by a coroner (120,250 coroner-registered deaths) and registration year 2018, when 17.5% of all deaths were registered by a coroner (94,610), there was an increase in the median delay between occurrence and registration for deaths registered by a coroner from 5 days in 2001 to 18 days in 2018

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