Medical Examiners

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 17th October 2018.

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Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason medical examiners have been placed in NHS Trusts rather than in local authorities, as recommended by the Shipman Report.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The response to the Government’s consultation on the introduction of medical examiner and death certification reform in England and Wales, demonstrated widespread support for the aims of the reforms and for the introduction of medical examiners, but there were concerns about some aspects of the proposals. In particular, concerns were raised about how the proposed model, based in local authorities, would work in practice and about the timeframes for implementing the system.

Since the Government consulted on the package of Death Certification Reforms, events have moved on. New information about how a medical examiner system could be introduced has been generated by the Department medical examiner pilot sites, early adopters of the medical examiner system, as well as from the Learning from Deaths initiative.

Reflecting these developments, the response to consultation published in June 2018 announced a revised approach, with medical examiners employed in the National Health Service system, with a separate professional line of accountability, allowing for access to information in the sensitive and urgent timescales surrounding death registration but with independence necessary for the credibility of the scrutiny process. The new system will be rolled out from April 2019.

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