News story

Testing the improved process of death certification

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The new process has been tested and refined in death certification pilots in several British towns and cities.

The new process has been tested and refined in death certification pilots in Sheffield, Gloucestershire, Powys, Mid-Essex, Brighton and Hove, Leicester and Inner North London. To date, approximately 11,000 deaths have been scrutinised by pilot medical examiners. The key lessons from the pilots (to-date) are:

  • the overall timescale for completion of the scrutiny process is 1-4 working hours
  • where there is a need for scrutiny on an urgent basis, for example because of religious considerations, it has been possible to make appropriate arrangements
  • the new death certification process works best if doctors seek advice from a medical examiner before they certify a death
  • attending doctors are providing positive feedback about the value of the advice they receive from medical examiners.

An end-to-end simulation model of the new process has also been built by the School of Health and Related Sciences at Sheffield University. This enables the complete process to be tested rigorously so key throughputs and resource levels can be determined in a range of scenarios.