In the United Kingdom, pertussis guidance recommends prophylaxis for household contacts within 21 days of case symptom onset if the household includes a vulnerable contact. The aim of our study was to identify characteristics associated with cases reported late for public health action. We reviewed the epidemiology of cases reported in London and South East England for the period 2010 to 2015. We characterised risk factors associated with late reporting of cases and described public health actions taken on timely reported cases. From 2010 to 2015, 9,163 cases of pertussis were reported to health protection teams. Only 11% of cases were reported within 21 days of onset, limiting opportunities for secondary prevention. Timely reporting was associated with younger age groups, pregnancy, being a healthcare worker and being reported by schools or hospital clinicians. Late reporting was associated with older age groups and general practitioner or laboratory reporting. Delays, such as those due to insidious onset and late presentation to healthcare, may be unavoidable; however, delay in reporting once a patient presents can be reduced since cases can be reported before laboratory confirmation. Thus we recommend working with clinicians and laboratories to determine causes and improve early reporting to public health.