Death Certification update from the government

June 20, 2018   //   No Comments

The government recently published its response to the Death Certification Reform and Medical Examiner consultation held in 2016.  A copy of the Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) can be found here and a link to the Consultation Response is at the end of the WMS.  This report covers England only; proposals for Wales will be made in due course.

In summary –

  • The statutory death certification process remains unchanged and registrars will continue with their existing duty to report certain deaths to the coroner while regulations for the notification by medical practitioners of deaths to coroners will be introduced.
  • Medical examiners will be employed in the NHS system under a non-statutory scheme. Introduction will be phased in with Medical Examiners scrutinising the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death following deaths in NHS trust hospitals from April 2019 with deaths in the community being scrutinised as the scheme is expanded to cover General Practitioners.
  • A National Medical Examiner will be appointed.
  • Current cremation regulations regarding the role of Medical Referees and the requirement for cremation medical certificates remain unchanged. Medical Examiners will be available to complete cremation form 5 for which they will levy the BMA recommended charge.

Funding of the medical examiners:

There will be two stages to funding the ME system to enable its introduction while legislation is in progress. Initially, medical examiners will be funded through the existing fee for completing medical cremation forms, in combination with central government funding for medical examiner work not covered by those fees. Following this interim period and when Parliamentary time allows for the system to move to a statutory footing, the funding of the system will need to be revisited. The existing medical cremation forms and fees payable associated with those forms will continue to apply for the interim period.

The Government has proposed that all child deaths (up to age 18) be exempt from the cost associated with the Medical Examiner system. This aligns with the broader purpose of the Government’s recent announcement about steps to ensure that no bereaved family will have to pay for the essential costs of burying or cremating their child.

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