A national network of medical examiners was recommended by the Shipman, Mid-Staffordshire and Morecambe Bay public inquiries. The College campaigned for their implementation. In October 2017 Lord O’Shaughnessy, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, announced that a national system of medical examiners would be introduced from April 2019.
As the lead medical royal college for medical examiners, the College provides medical examiner training, information on setting up a medical examiner system and advice on how to become a medical examiner.
In July 2019, as part of the NHS Patient Safety Strategy, Dr Alan Fletcher, National Medical Examiner, described the new system:
The medical examiner system will be a transformative part of the NHS safety system, giving the bereaved a voice, while ensuring that the period after death is as problem free as possible. Several important inquiries have recommended this system be established.
The benefits of medical examiners will be far-reaching and touch the work of numerous agencies. With this in mind we arranged a roundtable in June 2016 with leading representatives of patient groups, charities, local and central government, the coronial and health services to discuss the issues, particularly in relation to the practicalities of implementation.
The College has published a pamphlet Medical examiners, explaining background to the policy.
- 29 January 2019: New medical examiner resources for members and commissioning bodies
- 11 June 2018: Government confirms introduction of national system of medical examiners
- 30 March 2017: Medical examiner delay
- 5 May 2016: Members urged to support medical examiner reforms
- 21 January 2015: Royal College of Pathologists calls for introduction of medical examiners without delay