Suspicious or unexplained deaths among men 'more likely' to be reported by doctors than among women

Inquests into reported female deaths are half as likely, and there is less chance of doctors referring women's deaths to coroner in the first place

Doctors are more likely to report a man’s death to a coroner than a woman’s, a study has found.

And once the coroner receives a report of unexplained death, he or she is twice as likely to hold an inquest if it is a man who died.

Research published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology looked at Government statistics which record instances when a doctor decides they cannot issue a medical certificate, and instead refer the death for a coroner to investigate.

Across a 10-year period, medical staff referred the deaths of 49 per cent of men, compared to just 39 per cent of women.

Just 8 per cent of those female deaths then resulted in a formal inquest, as opposed to 16 per cent of male deaths.

The authors of the report also noted huge regional variations in these proportions, saying: “Some coroners seem especially 'gendered' in their decision-making in that they are consistently more likely to favour a particular verdict according to the sex of the deceased.”

They added that in general: “Deaths of women in England and Wales are less likely to be reported to the coroner than deaths of men.

“Female deaths reported are less likely to proceed to inquest than male deaths, and female deaths proceeding to inquest are less likely to result in a verdict of unnatural death than male deaths.”

And the study observed that while around 46 per cent of all registered deaths across both genders are reported to the coroner, the percentage varies considerably depending on where the person died.

In Stamford, Lincolnshire, just 12 per cent of deaths were reported compared to 87 per cent of deaths in Plymouth and south Devon.

The analysis of Ministry of Justice statistics comes just a week after the set of laws designed to overhaul the “postcode lottery” of inquests came into force.

Then Justice Minister Helen Grant said: “We are making absolutely sure that the needs of bereaved people are put first and foremost – and that this is done consistently around the country.”