New coroners' system to be set up in England and WalesBMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7537.323-b (Published 09 February 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:323
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Emmett, SL. Cooper, H. & Lucas, SB
We were once again pleased to here the Government’s recent announcement about plans to reform the “archaic” coronial system in the UK (1, 2, 3). The proposals boast a modernised service with improved services for bereaved families, good national leadership and more effective investigations (1). Importantly, the service will become accountable (1).
The timing of the announcement coincides well with our study, the first of its kind across the UK to systematically examine the quality of coronial autopsy reports requested by coroners in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) developed the study after receiving a proposal from the Royal College of Pathologists during our annual topic selection process (4).
Practising coroners and pathologists are working with NCEPOD to assess the quality of coronial autopsy reports from a week long period. In addition, all mortuaries in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man that are used for coronial autopsies have been requested to complete an organisational questionnaire, to enable NCEPOD to gather information about the facilities available to pathologists.
We hope the results of the study will be able to highlight examples of good practice and identify areas for improvement. We anticipate that the study may also serve as a useful baseline for quality audits, which we hope will be carried out in the future as an integral part of monitoring and improving the reformed coronial process.
The results of the study are due to be released to the public in an NCEPOD report on 19 October 2006. For more information please visit the studies in progress section of the NCEPOD website; http://www.ncepod.org.uk/studies.htm
1. Department of Constitutional Affairs. Coroners Service Reform Briefing Note February 2006. Available at: http://www.dca.gov.uk/corbur/coron03.htm#cor_sbn. Accessed 06 February 2006
2. Dyer, C. New coroners’ system is to be set up in England and Wales. BMJ 2006; 332: 323
3. Dyer, C. Coroners will deliver fuller verdicts after inquest. BMJ 2003; 326: 1284
4. National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death, http://www.ncepod.org.uk/functions.htm#select
Competing interests: No competing interests