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New death certificate system delayed until April 2019

The launch of an independent medical examiner service has been pushed back to April 2019, a year later than the Government had planned.

The medical examiner service, which was proposed at the 2005 inquiry into the murders by serial killer GP Dr Harold Shipman, will review and confirm the cause of all deaths.

Medical examiners were piloted several years ago, but plans to roll them out nationwide were put on hold.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We are fully committed to the introduction of medical examiners by April 2019.’

The reformed system for certifying non-coronial deaths is expected to improve the quality and accuracy of the medical certificate of cause of death, the national data on avoidable mortality and contribute to improved patient safety.

However, GPs are expected to still have to sign the certificate giving the medical reason for the cause of death, according to previous comments from the BMA’s GP committee.