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Post-mortems

Volume 487: debated on Monday 26 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many post mortems were held in each of the last 10 years; and how many of those followed deaths (a) in hospital, (b) in care homes and (c) under the care of a surgeon. (249787)

I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking how many post mortems were held in each of the last 10 years; and how many of those followed (a) deaths in hospital, (b) deaths in care homes and (c) deaths under the care of a surgeon. (249787)

The attached table provides the estimated number of deaths where a postmortem was carried out for the years 1998 to 2007 (the latest year available), and how many of these deaths (a) occurred in a hospital and (b) occurred in a care home.

It is not possible to provide figures for the number of deaths where a postmortem was carried out and the person was under the care of a surgeon, as this information is not recorded at death registration.

These figures should be treated with caution, as changes from year to year may reflect known issues of incomplete reporting and operational factors affecting the recording of postmortems at death registration.

Table 1. Estimated number of deaths where a post-mortem was carried out, by place of death1 1998-20072

Postmortems (persons)

Care home

Hospital

Other

Total

1998

8,469

57,260

56,302

122,031

1999

9,168

58,128

57,444

124,740

2000

9,919

61,312

57,490

128,721

2001

9,640

57,846

55,940

123,426

2002

9,523

56,040

53,871

119,434

2003

9,832

55,351

54,601

119,784

2004

9,158

53,532

52,910

115,600

2005

9,004

51,504

53,099

113,607

2006

8,272

49,743

52,200

110,215

2007

7,835

48,511

52,027

108,373

1 ‘Care home’ includes private nursing homes (NHS and non-NHS), and residential homes (private and local authority). ‘Hospital’ includes NHS and non-NHS hospitals, or multifunction sites. Deaths occurring in all places not defined above, including hospices and private residences, are included in the ‘other’ category.

2 Figures are for deaths registered in each calendar year.