21 November 2018

College welcomes DHSC announcement outlining the next stage for the implementation of medical examiners

"We welcome the announcement from the Department of Health and Social Care outlining the next stage for the implementation of medical examiners from April 2019. Medical examiners will be ideally placed to detect, monitor and escalate concerns. This is the culmination of a great deal of work by the College over many years. We also warmly welcome the first steps in the practical implementation, in particular, the recruitment to the post of National Medical Examiner and the publication of an e-learning package for medical examiners.” – Professor Jo Martin, President, The Royal College of Pathologists 

Department of Health and Social Care announcement 

The publication of the Government’s response to the consultation on death certification reforms on 11 June 2018, demonstrates the ongoing commitment to the introduction of medical examiners and NHS Improvement will support the set-up of the non-statutory system for rapid progress to be made from April 2019.

Medical examiners will be employed in the NHS 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. This independence will be overseen by a National Medical Examiner, providing leadership to the system.

The National Medical Examiner will be appointed to NHS Improvement and the advert for this post is available  at NHS jobs.

The introduction of Medical Examiners to scrutinise all non-coronial deaths will improve the quality and accuracy of the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, national data on avoidable mortality and contribute to improved patient safety.  A digital provider has been identified and a digital solution is under development to ensure consistency of approach and a record of scrutiny by medical examiners. 

The medical examiners and medical examiner officers will work with the wider system including coroners, registrars and funeral directors to provide better safeguards for the public, provide an opportunity for the bereaved to raise concerns and understand how the death is recorded, and act as a filter for the need for further investigation. In order to support the medical examiner system a training package has been developed including e-learning. Face-to-face training has also been developed and more details will be released soon by the Royal College of Pathologists.

England and Wales are taking a consistent approach to the medical examiner system and the Royal College of Pathologists will provide oversight as the lead college for this professional group in both administrations. The Royal College of Pathologists will be hosting another medical examiner national event on 30 January 2019 in Birmingham, details of which will be released soon.

For more information please email: deathcertification@dh.gsi.gov.uk

For more information about the role of medical examiners and for a model job description, visit: medical examiners.