Review of the avoidable mortality definition

Closed 10 Sep 2019

Opened 30 Jul 2019

Feedback updated 18 Oct 2019

We asked

What is your general view on the proposed definition of avoidable mortality?

Do you have any concerns with ONS implementing the proposed definition?

Will the proposed change to the definition affect your future use of these statistics?

You said

Overall, respondents were supportive of ONS implementing the new definition of avoidable mortality.

Some users highlighted limitations of implementing the new avoidable mortality definition from 2014 onwards, requesting a longer time series to be considered. The appropriateness of restricting the new definition to under 75 years was also raised, as well as inconsistences in the drug-related death International Classification of Disease (ICD) codes and the treatment of sequelae ICD codes.

We did

We spoke to our avoidable mortality stakeholder interest group and the OECD working group about the validity of extending the time series back to 2001, rather than the more contemporary 2014. There was agreement across both groups that there would be benefits to having a longer time series; however, this does require an assumption to be made that the causes of death considered avoidable included in the definition were authentically avoidable over a lengthy time period.

ONS are aware of the need to provide information on avoidable mortality in over 75-year olds and this is something we will be looking at in the future.

We have discussed with the OECD working group the inconsistencies in some of the cause of death coding. As a result, OECD have agreed to update their avoidable mortality definition to correct these inconsistencies.

In February 2020, we will publish the Avoidable mortality in the UK release under the new definition for years 2001 to 2018. In May 2020, we will publish the Socioeconomic inequalities in England and Wales release under the new definition for years 2001 to 2018.

Results updated 19 Dec 2019



An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) working group was set up in 2017 to review the definitions of avoidable mortality used internationally with a remit to create a harmonised definition. The group has proposed a new definition of avoidable mortality. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will aim to follow the guidance provided by OECD to ensure that our statistics are internationally comparable, subject to the feedback we receive. We are seeking your views on the definition and its implementation.

We have attached an impact paper which explains the proposed definition of avoidable mortality and the differences compared to the current definition.

What happens next

We will publish a summary of the comments made approximately six weeks after the consultation closes.


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