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Rollout of new death certification system postponed until April 2024

Rollout of new death certification system postponed until April 2024

The statutory rollout of a new system requiring GPs to agree death certificates with a medical examiner has been postponed until April next year, a health minister has said.

The system was meant to commence from this month, with the intention of medical examiners (MEs) providing independent scrutiny of all deaths in the community which are not taken to the coroner, but last month Pulse revealed exclusively that the rollout had been postponed indefinitely due to legal delays.

But, in a statement to Parliament yesterday, health minister Maria Caulfield confirmed the introduction will start from April 2024.

She said: ‘I wish to inform the House of the Government’s plan for introducing a statutory medical examiner system from April 2024.

‘The changes will put all of the medical examiner system’s obligations, duties and responsibilities on to a statutory footing and ensure they are recognised by law.

‘For example, it will be a legal requirement that medical examiners scrutinise all non-coronial deaths. This will help to deter criminal activity and poor practice, increase transparency and offer the bereaved an opportunity to raise concerns.’

Ms Caulfield said that the relevant provisions of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and the Health and Care Act 2022 will be commenced by the autumn.

‘We will also publish draft regulations by autumn 2023, and will lay the regulations when parliamentary time allows,’ she added.

‘We are working closely across Government to ensure that from both a legislative and operational perspective we are supporting the professions involved so that they are prepared for the full introduction of the statutory system from April 2024.’

Some GPs had branded the implementation of the new medical examiner process a ‘car crash’. Implementation has so far been determined locally and some GP practices have been using the system for many months already as a pilot scheme.

While briefing GPs on the recently-imposed new GP contract, the BMA’s GP Committee executive told GPs that it did not stipulate that GPs must agree death certificates with a medical examiner.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Douglas Callow 28 April, 2023 1:52 pm

postpone it completely would be my idea its NOT necessary

Michael Staite 28 April, 2023 3:00 pm

“To deter criminal activity and poor practice”? Is she suggesting that we are killing people and covering it up?

David Turner 28 April, 2023 6:06 pm

What an utterly pointless and meaningless idea, this will benefit nobody and in fact will mean the families of the deceased have even more hurdles put in front of them as they try to arrange a funeral.

Why would any GP do this work ( apart from the obvious, wads of cash) which will essentially make life harder with more pointless paperwork for their colleagues?

Anthony Everington 28 April, 2023 6:14 pm

And what is the impact going to be in the Islamic and Jewish community with the tradition of burial within 24 hours ?

David Church 28 April, 2023 8:51 pm

No, Michael, of course not. She was just admitting that they were still finding it difficult sometimes to pass the buck of blame onto GPs when someone else gets it wrong. Like with Dr Shipman. They tried hard to blame the other local GPs for that, when it was clearly more senior Hospital staff and Police/CPS procedures that were lacking.
Can’t see why it is taking them so long to get the statutes organised though. It could get smelly if they do everything so slowly and ignore professional input.

Some" Bloke 29 April, 2023 8:11 am

If it’s really that gravely serious, that public needs to be protected from hordes of GPs practicing so poorly that it deserves discussion in the parliament, and GP criminal behaviour needs to be controlled that badly, then why isn’t it done urgently? The lawmakers owe it to the bereaved, who apparently are currently unable to raise concerns. If in the eyes of our brilliant lawmakers situation is really that grim that it requires another layer of oversight, than any delay with this vital public safety measure is bordering on criminal incompetence.

Ian Haczewski 29 April, 2023 9:35 am

The local coroners office report it’s holding up the process enormously, the average time to get the death certificate passed now is 7-10 days in our area where piloting is taking place . For one of my partners this process has been batted backwards and forwards 6 times in the last 8 days . I so far have not had to do one yet !
It begs the question why put this on place unless this is another way of looking at and scrutinising our care , our monitoring or do they believe there are more serial killers out there that haven’t come to light yet !
Should we be paid to do all this extra administration ?

Dylan Summers 30 April, 2023 8:21 am

Why does the proposed system need to involve the GP routinely?

If an independent assessor wants to examine the notes and ascertain the cause of death, good luck to them: they can also issue the certificate and liaise with the coroner. If there is uncertainty in particular cases then the assessor can contact the GP in those cases.

Sam Tapsell 2 May, 2023 9:51 pm

We’re piloting, just a couple of cases, but it works well so far.
Admin notify the death to examiner, they log into systmone, pass along their recommendation as an email, we agree, say thanks and then we complete death and crem forms.
Not an unreasonable amount of oversight.
It’s basically just a couple of brief emails…so far