Editorials

Reform of the coroner system and death certification

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39350.426389.80 (Published 04 October 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:680
  1. Tom Luce, chair, Home Office Review of Death Certification and Coroner Services, 2001-3
  1. London SW1P 1ER
  1. tom.luce{at}btinternet.com

    Legislation is expected next month

    Last year, the UK government published a draft bill to reform the coroner system in England and Wales.1 The intention is to bring coroner reform legislation to parliament next month.

    The draft bill proposed fewer and larger coroner districts, led by full time legally qualified coroners. A new office of chief coroner would improve consistency of practice between local coroners and deal with appeals. There would be a new emphasis on prompt and sensitive service to bereaved families, and both nationally and locally the new service would have its own medical advice.

    In 2006, Baker and Cordner wrote an editorial in the BMJ on the government's approach.2 They criticised the decision to leave responsibility for the appointment and support of coroners with local authorities and the failure to tackle reform of death certification, as recommended by both the Home Office review and the Shipman Inquiry.3 4 These criticisms and others were made in a well researched and strongly argued report from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Affairs.5

    There are no indications of a government rethink on the continuing role of local authorities in the coroner service, but a recent consultation document from the Department of Health outlines important …

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