Changes to death certification and the introduction of medical examiners proposed in Wales

8 Nov 2016 01:30 PM

A consultation on reforms to death certification and the introduction of medical examiners in Wales has been launched by the Welsh Government.

It is proposed that in England and Wales all deaths - except those investigated by a coroner - will be considered by an independent medical examiner.  This new system could be in place from April 2018.

The medical examiner’s role will be to look at a person’s medical notes to ensure the proposed cause of death is accurate. They will also contact the relatives of the deceased to discuss the cause of death. 

The changes will provide reassurance for bereaved families, who will have the comfort of knowing that an independent person is looking at their relative’s death to check everything is as expected.

The decision to change the current system follows the Shipman Inquiry and other reviews such as the Francis Report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust. The reforms will ensure there are safeguards in the system to prevent wrongdoing and to promote learning and improvement. 

The consultation also asks for responses on a fee to be charged for the medical examiner’s service. No decisions have been made as to the exact amount and options on how the fee will be paid are still being considered.