BBC reports on delays in death registration and certification

  • BBC report shows many local authorities not meeting five-day target for registering a death
  • NAFD’s view is that better coordination and overhaul of the death registration and certification process urgently needed

Evidence from members of  the National Association of Funeral Directors, gathered over several years, shows significant increases in the length of time taken by local authorities in processing death registration and a lack of coordination between the various public agencies involved when a life ends. There is also a lack of information given to families about the process; a gap which the funeral profession often finds itself trying to fill.

NAFD members have reported Registrar’s offices closing or staff cutbacks, leading to people having to wait longer or travel a greater distance to complete the registration process. Many funeral directors routinely cite delays before an appointment can be made at Registrar’s offices during busy periods, or during school holidays and over Christmas, when many registrars are away at the same time.

Other factors can influence the delay between death and the funeral too. We are aware of certain Cemeteries and Crematoria insisting on having forms two or three working days in advance of the funeral. Sometimes delays occur in getting doctors to sign paperwork, which can be exacerbated by the circumstances of the death – such as if someone dies away from their normal place of residence or was being treated by a specialist unit a distance from where they lived.

The NAFD would like to see better coordination of the various organisations involved at the end of a life to help families navigate the process. It is important that public agencies act in the public interest and actively support families who are grieving. The Association has long called for reforms to the Death Certification process and remains extremely disappointed that a consultation on the Introduction of Medical Examiners and Reform to Death Certification in England and Wales was issued in March 2016, but the Government has still not published any response to the consultation.

The BBC report can be found here.