Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Health: Shipman Inquiry

House of Lords written question – answered on 21st May 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 25 March (WA 81) concerning the reports of the Shipman inquiry, what steps have been taken to implement the measures proposed to strengthen the systems of death and cremation certification; and

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 25 March (WA 81) concerning the reports of the Shipman inquiry, whether they will implement the recommendation that it should be unlawful for a single doctor to provide certification of death for burial purposes; and

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 25 March (WA 81) concerning the reports of the Shipman inquiry, whether they will implement the recommendation that there should be independent scrutiny by a second person of the circumstances of death and the deceased's medical history; and

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 25 March (WA 81) concerning the reports of the Shipman inquiry, whether they will implement the recommendation that there should be cross-checking of information between the treating doctor or doctors, the deceased's family and, where appropriate, nursing or care staff, to ensure that the suggested cause of death is consistent with the circumstances of the deceased's death; and

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 25 March (WA 81) concerning the reports of the Shipman inquiry, whether they will implement the recommendation that no doctor should by themselves be permitted to make the decision whether or not to refer a death to the coroner for investigation; and

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 25 March (WA 81) concerning the reports of the Shipman inquiry, whether they will introduce the proposal in the third report for new forms of reporting and adequate capturing of information relating to the circumstances of death.

Photo of Lord Darzi of Denham Lord Darzi of Denham Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

The department published a consultation paper, Improving the Process of Death Certification, on 24 July 2007. The paper sought views on proposals to address the weaknesses identified by the Shipman inquiry in the process of death certification in England and Wales.

Key proposals are that:

all medical certificates of cause of death (MCCDs), with the exception of cases referred directly to the coroner by the certifying doctor, would be subject to scrutiny by an independent medical examiner appointed by a primary care trust (or an equivalent organisation in Wales) and with strong links to the National Health Service clinical governance teams;if the medical examiner was satisfied that all was in order, he/she would issue an authorisation enabling the family of the deceased to register the death and proceed to burial or cremation;where the medical examiner was not satisfied that the MCCD told the full story, or felt that there were other unusual circumstances, he/she would refer the case to the coroner for further investigation, along with his/her reasons for doing so; the medical examiner would have full access to medical records and would be empowered to discuss the circumstances of the death with the doctor signing the MCCD and with the family of the deceased; andNHS clinical governance teams would collate information from MCCDs and would use this to analyse trends and patterns, looking out for unusual features, such as those revealed by Shipman's pattern of deaths.

Clauses implementing these important reforms will be included in the coroners and death certification Bill announced as part of the Government's draft legislative programme for 2008-09. A summary of responses to the consultation on Improving the Process of Death Certification will be published by the department on 21 May 2008.

The Government believe these proposals represent a transparent, proportionate, consistent and affordable response to the weaknesses identified by the Shipman inquiry that will provide greater protection for the public and improve the quality and accuracy of death certification. The proposals will also improve public health surveillance and remove current inequalities in the way burials and cremations are dealt with.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes0 people think so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.