Death certification: Links to funeral director guidance
Information on death certification
Please note - this piece is being updated
National Association of Funeral Directors
The changes to cremation forms are summed up on the National Assocation of Funeral Directors website. It is worth checking back here.
The Coronavirus Bill published by the Government says the following:
Managing the deceased with respect and dignity
The steps the government is taking to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic will save lives. However, sadly, as has already been seen, people will lose loved ones as a result of this disease. We want to ensure the deceased are treated with the utmost respect and dignity and that the current procedures in relation to death and still-birth registration and management are modified to enable this and to protect public health. This will take account of the fact that families who have lost a loved one may be self-isolating, and that there may be reduced capacity to register and manage deaths as a result of pandemic-related sickness absence.
The bill intends to make changes to
- mean a coroner is only to be notified where a doctor believes there is no medical practitioner who may sign the death certificate, or that they are not available within a reasonable time of the death
- introduce powers to enable the provisions under the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 relating to the collection of ashes to be suspended and replaced with a duty to retain until the suspension is lifted, except where family wishes are known. Also, suspend an offence in section 49 of the 2016 Act, allowing any relative of the deceased to complete the cremation application form, regardless of the required hierarchy set out by section 65 of the 2016 Act
- expand the list of people who can register a death to include funeral directors acting on behalf of the family
- enable electronic transmission of documents that currently have to be physically presented in order to certify the registration of a death
- remove the need for a second confirmatory medical certificate in order for a cremation to take place
- remove the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 requirement that any inquest into a COVID-19 death must be held with a jury. Other notifiable diseases will still require an inquest with a jury
- suspend the referral of certificates to the Death Certification Review Service (DCRS) for review in Scotland under the Certification of Death (Scotland) Act 2011. The timing of the suspension to be at the discretion of Scottish ministers
If the scientific advice indicates that the number of people who might die from COVID-19 is likely to significantly exceed the capacity locally to manage the deceased and other contingency measures have been deployed, local government will have the ability to take control of a component or components of the death management process in their area.
For example, local authorities may choose to direct local actors such as funeral directors, mortuaries owners, crematoriums owners and others, to streamline the death management process. This may include an increase in the operating times of crematoriums, directing companies to use their vehicles to move bodies, or directing others not directly involved in the funeral sector, to provide necessary support.
Only in the most extreme situations where there is a risk to public health would the powers of direction be used and only be used when scientific evidence and operational advice suggests that it is necessary. Activating the powers will ensure the local death management system continues to work effectively to protect public health and the dignity of the deceased. Personal choice will be respected as far as possible, especially in regard to how we handle loved ones after they have passed.