15 Dec 2023
by Policy, Practice and Innovation Team

Minister Maria Caulfield MP has announced new measures to help protect the public and support bereaved families, in a revamp of how deaths are certified in England and Wales

Medical examiners will look at causes of all deaths not investigated by the coroner to help prevent criminal activity and poor practice. They will strengthen safeguards by scrutinising how people have died prior to registration and make sure the right deaths are referred to coroners.

Medical examiners are senior medical practitioners who will:

  • Seek to confirm the proposed cause of death by the medical doctor and the overall accuracy of the medical certificate of cause of death;
  • Discuss the proposed cause of death with those bereaved and establish if they have questions or any concerns relating to their loved one;
  • Support appropriate referrals to senior coroners;
  • Identify cases for further review to ensure best practice.

Medical examiners already review deaths in hospital trusts.  The reforms will apply to all deaths not investigated by a coroner in other locations and put this on a statutory footing.

NHS trusts will host the medical examiners with 126 offices in England.

Draft regulations and communications have been published on how the new legal requirements will work. The reforms will include changes to practices for multiple professions.

Legislation will be laid in early 2024 and from April 2024 the new statutory regulations will come into force in England and Wales.

Minister’s statement: Written statements - Written questions, answers and statements - UK Parliament

Related topics