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Publication, Part of

Compendium – Years of life lost

Open data
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
England, Wales
Geographical Granularity:
Country, Regions, County, Local Authorities, London Authorities


Years of life lost (YLL) is a measure of premature mortality. Its primary purpose is to compare the relative importance of different causes of premature death within a particular population and it can therefore be used by health planners to define priorities for the prevention of such deaths. It can also be used to compare the premature mortality experience of different populations for a particular cause of death. The concept of years of life lost is to estimate the length of time a person would have lived had they not died prematurely. By inherently including the age at which the death occurs, rather than just the fact of its occurrence, the calculation is an attempt to better quantify the burden, or impact, on society from the specified cause of mortality.

As of May 2020, users should be aware that the two indicators prefixed with 'Years of life lost due to mortality from skin cancers other than malignant melanoma' have been excluded from the 2018 refresh applied to all other indicators in the list. This is due to a substantial number of deaths from "squamous cell carcinoma where no site was specified" having been miscoded at source to International Classification of Diseases (ICD10) code C449 "Other and unspecified malignant neoplasm of skin, unspecified" which resulted in a substantial artificial step change in the series for both 2016 and 2017 and had the potential to mislead if published.

ONS are aware of the issue and have indicated that it will be resolved for the 2018 release. For each of the affected indicators, the versions based on the 2015 refresh remain available to download in the interim.

From 2016 onwards, mortality counts within the Compendium Mortality Indicator set are based on a bespoke extract taken from the Primary Care Mortality Database (PCMD) maintained by NHS Digital. PCMD is updated monthly using a file of death records from ONS and is continually subject to amendment.

It is already well established that late registrations have a small impact on counts. This bespoke extract may be taken at a different time to that of the mortality data published by ONS and as such this may cause some small differences between ONS and NHS Digital mortality figures for a given year.

Data Sets


Last edited: 26 May 2020 11:28 am