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GPC warning over cremation certificate change

GPs are facing a raft of unfunded extra work from signing cremation certificates under a new scheme to be introduced in Scotland.

The changes – to be introduced ‘shortly' by NHS Tayside and NHS Dumfries and Galloway, and rolled out across Scotland in 2013-14 - will mean two signatures will no longer be needed for an application for cremation.

Under the new certification only one signature will be needed per application and the current fee of £147 – paid to both doctors who sign the certificate – will be abolished.  

A number of regionally based medical reviewers are also being introduced with the power to scrutinise GPs' decision to issue cremation certificates.

Dr Dean Marshall, chair of GPC Scotland, said: ‘The problem is that it is going to be a significant amount of workload for no funding and we have been told that GPs will have to prioritise this because otherwise they will hold up cremations.'

‘It is going to cause particular problem for GPs at unforeseen times - getting phoned in the middle of your surgery and having an hour long conversation with a referee.'

The Scottish Government said the new scheme would remove ‘current inconsistencies' between procedures cremation and burial, reduce the charges to £30 and ‘should not be a burden on doctors' time'.