Letters

The coroner service

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7216.1072 (Published 16 October 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1072

Coroner service could indeed be improved

  1. James Pilpel, general practitioner
  1. The Surgery, Tean, Stoke on Trent ST10 4EG
  2. The Surgery, Hampton-in-Arden, Solihull B92 0AH
  3. Academic Department of Paediatrics, North Staffordshire Hospital, Stoke on Trent ST4 6QG
  4. Imperial College School of Medicine, London W2 1PG
  5. Manor Hospital, Walsall WS2 9PS
  6. GP Direct, West Harrow, Middlesex HA5 4EA
  7. North Thames Perinatal Public Health, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3UJ

    EDITOR—I recognise the need for society and the judiciary to be able to check up on medical practitioners, but I strongly concur with Pounder's views that the coroner service could be improved.1 A 49 year old patient of the practice where I work died peacefully at home recently of cerebral metastases from lung cancer. He had been ably cared for by his wife and daughters with help from the district and hospice nurses in liaison with one of my partners and our local oncologist. I attended to confirm death, but as he had not needed to see a doctor in the last month or so the coroner would not permit me to issue the death certificate. After some negotiation and despite being sympathetic, he did consent to my partner issuing the death certificate on her return from holiday four days later, although he would not have done so had she not been due back so soon.

    There seemed no doubt about our patient's identity or place or cause of death, and there certainly was no hint of foul play.

    This case is by no means an isolated one, and I am sure that many of my general practitioner colleagues are tempted to overlook the rules in straightforward natural deaths to protect relatives from interference. I believe that the public would welcome the opportunity to express their views and am equally sure that they would support modernisation of this archaic but important service.

    References

    1. 1.

    Inquests often facilitate grief

    1. Rodger Charlton, general practitioner principal (charlton@monfode.demon.co.uk)
    1. The Surgery, Tean, Stoke on Trent ST10 4EG
    2. The Surgery, Hampton-in-Arden, Solihull B92 0AH
    3. Academic Department of Paediatrics, North Staffordshire Hospital, Stoke on Trent ST4 6QG
    4. Imperial College School of Medicine, London W2 1PG
    5. Manor Hospital, Walsall WS2 9PS
    6. GP Direct, West Harrow, Middlesex HA5 4EA
    7. North Thames Perinatal Public Health, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3UJ

      EDITOR—Pounder's editorial on the coroner service fails to raise important issues in relation to bereavement and the existing coroner service.1 There is a conflict of interest between the “enforceable intrusion” of a coroner's inquest …

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