Wide regional variations in reporting of deaths to local coroners and potential gender bias

New research published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology looking into the coroners system in England and Wales has produced data which shows massive regional variations in the reporting of deaths to the 114 local coroners, which could mean that some deaths which occurred due to unnatural causes might have officially been recorded as death by natural causes. The authors, Maxwell Mclean, Jason Roach and Rachel Armitage, found that in the local coroner jurisdictions, the percentage reporting rates of registered deaths varied from 87% in Plymouth and South West Devon to just 12% in Stamford.

A further finding of the researchers was that 49% of male deaths on average were reported to the coroner compared to on average 39% of female deaths. Furthermore, for men 16% of the deaths reported resulted in an inquest taking place, but the figure for women was just 8%. There was also a curious difference in the verdicts at inquest, with 28% of women considered to have died of natural causes, compared to 22% of men having been found to have died from natural causes. The researchers who intend to look further at these gender differences, conclude so far that some coroners may be considered as ‘gendered’ in the way they approach inquest verdicts.

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