21 Dec 2023
by Policy, Practice and Innovation Team

The Minister for Mental health and Women’s Health Strategy, 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.

In order to help prevent criminal activity and poor practice, medical examiners will look at the causes of all deaths not investigated by the Coroner They will strengthen safeguards by scrutinising prior to registration how people have died 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 announced in early 2024 and the new statutory regulations will come into force in England and Wales from April.

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

You can also read the Welsh ministerial statement here and the update from Care Inspectorate Wales.

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