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Coroner's office stops accepting phone calls from GPs

GPs in one area have enlisted the help of their LMC after the local coroner’s office stopped accepting telephone calls - a move that has led to complaints about delays distress to bereaved families.

Disgruntled GPs have contacted Pulse to say that the Essex coroner’s office is directing them to a web-based enquiry service instead of handling queries on the phone and this change of approach is leading to serious delays.

They have warned that a query about a death certificate might not be resolved for weeks under the new system, whereas it would have been handled with a simple phone call in the past.

Essex LMC has now got involved after GPs asked it for help.

Essex LMCs chief executive Brian Balmer told Pulse: ‘We have had a couple of practices approach us with concerns and we are now in discussion with the coroner’s office about the issue.

'We understand that communications have dropped, meaning that it is taking longer for GPs to sort out queries and that it is also causing families distress.’

A spokesperson for Essex Coroners Service said: 'The GP Online Referral system has been in place for a few months in line with the Chief Coroner’s National Guidance for a model Coroner’s Area. This is also in line with many other Coroner’s Jurisdictions.

'There are definitely no delays in dealing with GP referrals or any other referrals and our service is up-to-date.

'Our telephone lines are open from 08:00am and Coroner’s Officers are available to speak to GPs throughout the day. Our telephone system offers an option for professionals to call through to our Service and this option has always been in place and will continue for any enquiries, however all referrals must be made through the online system.'



Readers' comments (6)

  • For most of my 34 years as a GP I was fortunate to deal with a Coroner who was a wise and much respected colleague, available (or with his Deputy)24 hours a day.His pragmatic and common sense decisions saved many families distress.
    Essex now seems to be offering instead a "customer service department".Yet another example of how we have lost the ethos of a National Health Service in which we were once proud to serve.

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  • A report requested by a Coroner can take up to an hour to do. Why do we have to do it for free?
    A letter received from the Coroner's office explained that there was an agreement with BMA which is no longer in place. On the other hand, Medeconomics mentions an average fee of £50 which is negotiable but Kent Coroners office has a different view.

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  • Live & work in Essex - 'all is fine' is far from the truth.

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  • We allow our Reception staff to put calls from the Coroner's Officers through to the Duty Dr.
    If the Coroner's Officers declined to take our calls, we would reciprocate by not accepting their calls.

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  • A sad and generallzable metaphor for the whole of primary care.

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  • Same situation in Nottingham

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