As members will be all too aware, the death certification system in England and Wales has remained largely unchanged for over fifty years and is no longer fit for purpose. Since The Shipman Inquiry, there has been much discussion about how the systems for certifying/scrutinising deaths can be improved. However, little has happened in practice.

On 1 April 2019, almost a decade since the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 first made provision for their introduction, it finally seems that a system of medical examiners will be rolled out across England and Wales.

Whilst any progress will be welcomed by the profession, celebration at this stage would be premature. The initial roll-out of Medical Examiner services will not be underpinned by legislation and is, therefore, unlikely to deliver the certainty and simplicity that many have been hoping for. Many questions about the practical delivery of a uniform national system also remain unanswered, but it now seems we can add a further question to the list: how long will the Medical Examiner system in England and Wales remain in a non-statutory transitional phase?

The NAFD recently…

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