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Leaked guidance suggests misreporting of COVID-19 deaths to supress figures

April 16, 2020

Leaked guidance suggests misreporting of COVID-19 deaths to supress figures

The Good Law Project has reported that it has received leaked guidance from an NHS hospital trust that reveals doctors are being told they are not required to put COVID-19 on death certificates. This guidance has so far only come from one NHS trust that The Good Law Project has not publicly named. It has, however, stated that it has instructed lawyers to write to the trust asking it for clarification on the guidance. It is not known if this guidance has been issued to trusts across the country.

It was The Good Law Project that worked with a cross party group of MPs and Lords to successfully challenge the government’s unlawful suspension of Parliament in 2019. The suggestion in the leaking of this information is that if doctors are being gently discouraged from reporting deaths as COVID-19, there will be no way of knowing if the government figures on deaths from coronavirus – the daily in hospital figures as well as the weekly ONS figures – are accurate. It could lead to total figures of deaths from COVID-19 being wildly inaccurate.

Under the heading General Principals the leaked memo states: “Doctors are asked to use the standard MCCD form to certify death. Pneumonia or Community acquired pneumonia are acceptable on the MCCD. There is no requirement to write COVID-19 as part of the MCCD.


The guidance invokes memories of the early years of HIV/AIDS when pneumonia was commonly used on death certificates and at times was requested by families as a preferred recorded certification of death.

The Good Law Project is calling on the health secretary Matt Hancock to take urgent action to ensure all suspected deaths from COVID-19 are recorded properly and is asking for as many as possible to sign their online petition.

You can read the guidance in full here. The name and phone number of the author of the document ,who is a senior manager in an NHS Trust, has been redacted.

If you have information about the way deaths from COVID-19 are being reported either in hospitals, care homes or in the community, please contact the Good Law Project in confidence at