Scottish Government
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Certification of Death (Scotland) Bill

New legislation, published today, will scrap the £147 cremation fee and give greater scrutiny to the death certification process.

Under current arrangements, cremation incurs an additional cost. The new proposals will create a consistency in approach between burial and cremation with a universal fee.

The bill will also improve the quality and accuracy of cause of death forms and ensure appropriate scrutiny of deaths in Scotland.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:

"The proposed changes will offer a service that is better quality and better value for money.

"These reforms will introduce a universal fee - considerably lower than what is currently paid by two thirds of families in Scotland. This will save bereaved families up to £3.6 million every year.

"Improved accuracy of cause of death forms will provide vital public health information and help ensure that public health resources can be directed where needed."

Chief Medical Officer Harry Burns said:

"This Bill removes historical differences between cremation and burial introduced at a time when medicine was less advanced.

"In addition this Bill provides us with a new and modern approach to scrutiny of death."

The Certification of Death (Scotland) Bill was published today.

The new system of death certification will apply to all deaths in Scotland that do not require a Procurator Fiscal investigation.

Under the new system:

  • A team of medical reviewers will be appointed who will comprehensively scrutinise a random sample of deaths as part of an annual audit cycle.
  • A senior medical reviewer who will provide a leadership and educational role.
  • The random sampling will be done at the point of registration.
  • Persons with a connection to the deceased can apply to the medical reviewer for a review.
  • The medical reviewer will be able to request additional retrospective and prospective scrutiny.
  • A key feature of Scotland's new system is that it will benefit from regular reports to produce national statistics which will show changes and trends over time.
  • Arrangements are included for a "fast track process" in certain circumstances.
  • In addition, a publicly funded post-mortem will be available for the first time for families where a relative has died overseas and is repatriated to Scotland for the funeral and the cause of death is unknown.
  • There were 53,856 deaths in Scotland in 2009, with around 60 per cent of people being cremated and 40 per cent buried.
  • Under the new system the proposed universal fee is likely to be around £30 pounds; in total the new system will cost around £1.2 million per annum.

Why Do We Need People Management Skills?...How Do We Best Manage Our People?...access and download the Ultimate Guide to People Management Skills now