Southwark and Lambeth ‘recording trebling of deaths’ but number of coronvirus fatalities remains unknown

Josh Salisbury (17 April, 2020)

On a typical day last week, registrars were recording three times as many deaths as the year before


Deaths in Southwark and Lambeth may have increased three-fold compared to a typical day last year amid the coronavirus crisis.

Not all of these will have been as a direct result of Covid-19.

Statistics on coronavirus deaths by borough are hard to come by, with the official daily statistics being released by Downing Street only counting hospital deaths as a result of coronavirus nationally.

Locally, registrars in Southwark and Lambeth are recording a near three-fold increase in the number of cases they are recording compared to the same day last year, according to Southwark Council leader Peter John.

“On one day last week, Lambeth registrars dealt with 44 deaths,” he said. “The same day the previous year they dealt with thirteen.

Southwark Council leader Peter John

“On a similar day last week in Southwark, last year they registered four deaths. This year they have registered fifteen.

“In both cases it’s effectively a trebling of the numbers of the deaths that are being registered.”

This week, the Office for National Statistics said that coronavirus was cited in one in five deaths for the week ending April 3 nationally.

For that same week, weekly recorded deaths in total was the highest it has been in England and Wales since records began fifteen years ago.

“The latest comparable data for deaths involving COVID-19 with a date of death up to 3 April, show there were 6,235 deaths in England and Wales,” said Nick Stipe, head of health analysis and life events at the ONS.

“When looking at data for England, this is 15% higher than the NHS numbers as they include all mentions of COVID-19 on the death certificate, including suspected COVID-19, as well as deaths in the community.

“The 16,387 deaths that were registered in England and Wales during the week ending 3 April is the highest weekly total since we started compiling weekly deaths data in 2005.”

Of London based deaths, ONS statistics show that nearly half of them involved coronavirus.

Why, then, the discrepancy between figures logged by the Department of Health and Social Care and figures posted by the ONS?

The updates from the Department for Health and Social Care covers all deaths recorded in hospitals from coronavirus and deaths in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland wherever they occurred, if known to the authorities.

Statistics logged by the ONS are based on death certification in England and Wales, whether in or out of hospital, and where coronavirus is mentioned as suspected cause of death on the death certificate.

The value of the daily stats provided by the government is that they are available much sooner than the statistics which are collated using death certificates, which provides a truer picture but takes more time.

“The figures published on GOV.UK are valuable because they are available very quickly and give an indication of what is happening day by day,” says the ONS.

“Their definition is also clear, so the limitations of the data can be understood.

“Numbers produced by the ONS take longer to prepare, because they have to be certified by a doctor, registered and processed.

“But once ready, they are the most accurate and complete information.”


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