Medical examiners

From April 2019, a national system of medical examiners will be introduced to provide much-needed support for bereaved families and to improve patient safety. The College is the lead medical royal college for medical examiners and continues to play a key role in influencing the government’s work around their introduction.

What are medical examiners? Medical examiners will be part of a national network of specifically trained independent senior doctors (from any specialty). Overseen by a National Medical Examiner, they will scrutinise all deaths that do not fall under the coroner’s jurisdiction across a local area.

The role of medical examiners

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.

In order to support the training of medical examiners, a training package has been developed, including e-learning which is available via the e-Learning for Healthcare website. Face-to-face training has also been created and more details will be released soon.  

Membership for medical examiners

As the lead medical royal college for medical examiners, the College will soon be providing a new membership package for medical examiners. More information on how to apply for this new membership will be available soon.

Support for trusts implementing medical examiners

Dr Alan Fletcher, Medical Examiner and Chair of the Royal College of Pathologists Medical Examiners Committee, talks about what a Medical Examiner does and shares information about the introduction of a non-statutory medical examiners system in 2019. Watch the webinar below. 

The following model job descriptions have been created to assist employers with recruiting medical examiners in their area.

We’re working with the Department of Health and Social Care and our Medical Examiners Committee to develop further resources to support trusts looking to implement a system of medical examiners.  

Our campaign for medical examiners

 Introducing medical examiners is a vital step in the drive to improve patient safety in the NHS. We have long campaigned for their implementation and there is real commitment and eagerness to begin work – Professor Jo Martin, President

The College has long campaigned for the implementation of medical examiners following recommendations from the the Shipman, Mid-Staffordshire and Morecambe Bay public inquiries. In October 2017 Lord O’Shaughnessy, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, made the announcement that a national system of medical examiners will be introduced from April 2019. 

Learn more about our campaign.