February 12, 2024
Changes to the medical examiner system and death certification process
A new statutory medical examiner system is planned to be rolled out in England and Wales from April 2024 to provide independent scrutiny of all deaths that aren’t referred to the coroner.
Medical examiners review medical records and work with doctors to complete a medical certificate of the cause of death (MCCD), commonly known as the death certificate. They talk to the family about their experience of care and discuss and agree the proposed MCCD with them. The MCCD must be completed before the death can be registered and the body released to the family.
This extra step is designed to strengthen safeguards by reviewing how people have died and making sure only the appropriate cases are referred to coroners. Importantly, it will give bereaved families the chance to ask questions or raise concerns, and so will help identify any issues and improve care for patients and bereaved people. It is also an opportunity to give positive feedback about the care a patient has received. This can be passed back to the teams and also helps identify good practice that can be shared with colleagues.
Medical examiners in West Yorkshire already carry out this function in many cases, as they have been preparing for the change in the law since it was first announced in 2022. They have been working with colleagues in GP practices, coroner and registrars’ offices and bereavement services to make sure that the new arrangement works smoothly and does not cause delays. All involved in the process understand what a difficult time it is for families when a loved one dies and how important it is to be able to make funeral or other arrangements as quickly as possible.
How you can help
This is a national change in the law, but the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership would like to know if you have any questions about how the new system will work in West Yorkshire or if you need any more information about it.
To help to make sure the new process works as well as possible, they would like to hear about any worries or concerns you might have about the changes. They also want to give people the chance to tell us about things we should consider, and to ask any questions you might have. They will share your feedback with West Yorkshire medical examiners.
There is more information and answers to frequently asked questions on the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership website. When you have read the information, please complete this short survey.