COVID19 Deaths at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2)
Dear Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,
I would be most grateful if you would provide me, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, answers to the following questions:
1. Between 01 January 2020 and 31 January 2021 how many COVID19 related deaths each month did Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust record and what were the ages of the deceased.
2. Between 01 January 2020 and 31 January 2021 how many deaths each month did Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust record where COVID19 was the ONLY cause of death and what were the ages of the deceased.
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Oxford University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
John Radcliffe Hospital Freedom of Information Team
Headley Way Email: [Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust request email]
Oxford OX3 9DU
5. mailto:[Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust request email]
Dear Pat Mastelotto
The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is writing to respond
to your request, F21-4627, sent 05/02/2021. We are sorry our response has
taken so long.
Please see below your request underlined and in italics, the Trust’s
1. Between 01 January 2020 and 31 January 2021 how many COVID19 related
deaths each month did Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
record and what were the ages of the deceased. – This information is held.
382 death certificates made reference to COVID-19 in Part I(a), I(b), I(c)
or Part II.
2. Between 01 January 2020 and 31 January 2021 how many deaths each month
did Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust record where COVID19
was the ONLY cause of death and what were the ages of the deceased. – This
information is held. Please see the attached file (F21-4627 - Number of
COVID-19-related deaths and age of the deceased.csv).
However, some of the information has been redacted. Age bands have been
provided instead of the age of the deceased. The exemption relied upon is
section 41 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as it concerns
information provided in confidence.
The information was provided with the expectation that the information
would only be used/disclosed in accordance with the wishes of the
confider. With specific regards to the age of the deceased, the
information would have been collected by the Trust in the course of the
patient’s treatment and would form part of their health record. The
information contained within the health record would have been created as
a result of information gathered with an expectation by the patient that
it would be held in confidence.
The ICO and Department of Health recognises that there may be
circumstances where information should be disclosed to individuals who do
not have a statutory right of access to a deceased patient’s record; where
there are grounds for breaching confidentiality, however, the reasons must
be valid with a strong public interest justified. The ICO and Department
of Health advises public authorities to look at the circumstances on a
case-by-case basis; the public interest in disclosure must be weighed
against both the wider public interest in preserving the principle of
confidentiality, the privacy rights of individuals and the impact that
disclosure would have. The public good that would be served by disclosure
must outweigh both the obligation of confidentiality owed to the deceased
individual and the overall importance placed in the health service
providing a confidential service.
On considering this, the Trust believes that in the context of health
records, the responsibility of confidentiality is vital. It reinforces and
underpins the commitment of trust between patients and doctors, without
which public confidence in the Trust may be damaged. Patients have a
reasonable expectation that any information they provide is only used to
enable effective delivery of care and is held under a duty of confidence.
The ICO recognises in its guidance that section 41 will be particularly
relevant to authorities holding information such as health records. It has
also been confirmed by the Information Tribunal that the duty of
confidentiality continues after the death. Furthermore, the Department of
Health document ‘Guidance for Access to Health Records Requests’ states
that “Current legal advice is that the Courts would accept that
confidentiality obligations owed by health professionals continue after
The ICO cite examples of situations where courts have required disclosure
in the public interest, these include cases where information concerns
illegal activity or misconduct; your request however would not fall into
If there is a breach of confidence the confider or any other party
affected may have the right to take action through the courts. The Trust
recognises that your request concerns deceased patients with no identified
next of kin. This, however, does not mean that other family members do not
On considering the above, the Trust has reached the conclusion that it
will not divulge such information when there is no legal obligation to do
The attached file provides the number of certificates that made reference
to COVID-19 in Part I(a) of the death certificate only. On these
certificates, there is nothing mentioned on the rest of the death
certificate (i.e. Parts I(b), I(c) and II) from the 1^st January 2020 up
to (and including) the 31^st January 2021.
N.B. The cause of death is recorded on a death certificate. These may list
a number of conditions listing the sequence of causes leading to death in
Part I of the death certificate. The condition at the top of part I of the
death certificate will list the direct cause of death. The lowest line of
part I of the death certificate will list the underlying cause “a) the
disease or injury which initiated the train of morbid events leading
directly to death, or b) the circumstances of the accident or violence
which produced the fatal injury”.
For more information about how deaths in England and Wales are recorded,
please see this webpage for more guidance –
For further information about Freedom of Information / Environmental
Information requests, you can visit the ICO’s website –
Information about requesting a review of our response to your request can
be found on https://www.ouh.nhs.uk/about/foi/request....
Provision of this information does not constitute permission for its
commercial re-use in terms of the Re-Use of Public Sector Information
Regulations 2015. You are free to use the information for your own use,
including for non-commercial research purposes. The information may also
be used for the purposes of news reporting. However, any other type of
re-use will require permission from the Oxford University Hospitals NHS
Freedom of Information Team
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
John Radcliffe Hospital
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