Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Questions (138)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

138. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Taoiseach the reason Ireland has failed to submit excess mortality figures from 2020 to Eurostat; and if the excess mortality rates for 2020 are available and will be published. [19354/21]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The timeliness of mortality data in Ireland means that the CSO is not currently in a position to produce excess mortality figures for Ireland for 2020 using official data. Following a death in Ireland, a registered medical practitioner who attended the deceased will complete and sign Part 1 of a Death Notification Form (DNF). This forms includes information on the cause of death and this form is then given to the spouse/partner or another relative of the deceased who are then the qualified informant for the death. If the deceased has no spouse/partner or other relative, then the form will be provided to another qualified informant.

Deaths must then be registered with the General Registration Office (GRO) no later than three months from the date of death. The registration of a death may be delayed where the death has been referred to a Coroner for investigation or inquiry. In such cases, the Coroner may issue a temporary certification to allow the death to be registered pending final determination of any investigation or inquiry. The registrations submitted to the GRO are then transmitted electronically to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on a weekly basis and the CSO assigns an Underlying Cause of Death (UCOD) to each record.

The CSO then publishes provisional quarterly data based on the date the death was registered within 5 months of the end of the reference period. Final data, based on the date the death occurred, is published within 22 months of the end of the reference period. The most recent final mortality data published was for 2018 which was disseminated at the end of October 2020. This time lag is to allow for as many records as possible that had been referred to the Coroner to be included in the data and thus the inability to calculate official estimates for Ireland for 2020.

Additional information on the processing of death certificates and the impact of COVID-19 is available from:

https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/in/vs/informationnoteontheimplicationsofcovid-19ontheprocessingofdeathcertificates/

However, recognising the importance of using other sources to provide more timely information to users, the CSO worked with data from RIP.ie to support the calculation of an estimated figure for excess mortality in Ireland. Two experimental Frontier Series releases have been issued by the CSO, on 3 July 2020 and 2 November 2020, and the CSO is currently working on this data to issue an updated release. There are a number of limitations in using this data however, but based on the analysis of death notices, excess mortality for the period March to September 2020 is estimated to be between 876 and 1,192. These releases, and details on the limitations of using such data, are available from:

https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-covid19/covid-19informationhub/health/measuringmortalityusingpublicdatasources/

In addition, the Department of Health and the General Registration Office are finalising proposals to change the death registration process in Ireland. These proposals include a requirement that deaths would be notified to the GRO in a much more timely fashion and this would allow for the more timely publication of summary mortality statistics and also allow for the more timely calculation of excess mortality statistics using official data.