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GPs told how to certify coronavirus deaths

NHS England has clarified to GPs the death certification process in the wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

In an information note, issued earlier this week, NHS England confirmed to GPs that Covid-19 is acceptable as a direct or underlying cause of death for a death certificate.

The latest figures from PHE state that there have been ten deaths from Covid-19 and 596 confirmed cases of the virus in the UK.

GPs have been advised that Covid-19 is a notifiable disease, but this does not mean that deaths caused by Covid-19 always need to be referred to the coroner.

GPs will continue to work under the Notification of Death Regulations 2019, which came into effect in October last year, and report deaths that have occurred in any of the 15 manners set out in the regulations.

If the next of kin are self-isolating following the death of a patient with coronavirus, NHS England asked GPs to arrange for someone who has not been in contact with the patient to collect the death certificate and deliver it to the registrar.

NHS England said more detailed information for the death certification process will be released in an ‘emergency scenario’.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Covid-19 is a notifiable disease.
    Registered medical practitioners in England & Wales have a STATUTORY duty to notify their local Authority or Health Protection Team of SUSPECTED cases.
    Here is a link to the form:
    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/324450/Notifiable_disease_form.pdf…

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  • if they self isolate and then die at home without seeing us in person and have not been tested - can we still certify as covid or is that a coroners post mortem?

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  • If they’ve not been tested and die how to we know if they had it?!

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  • Our first duty on a death certificate is to confirm we have seen the patient. This looks to me like being the greatest barrier to certification in the coming months.

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  • we must give a cause of death to the best off “belief and knowledge” ... does that require a test? I suspect not, but we must have been an attending doctor in their last Illness which will be a difficult standard to meet

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