A new medical examiner system is being rolled out across England and Wales to provide greater scrutiny of deaths.

The reforms to the death certification process will introduce a unified system of scrutiny to all deaths in England and Wales that do not need investigation by a coroner. It will replace the current procedures for burials and cremations, with a transparent process and create a new medical examiner service in England and Wales.

In Scotland, a new death certification system commenced as of 13th May 2015. This created the role of Medical Reviewers and a national Senior Medical Reviewer whose primary functions are to conduct reviews of MCCD’s.

Why do we need the reform?

The main aims of the reforms are to strengthen safeguards for the public, make the process simpler and more open for the bereaved, and increase the quality of certification and data about causes of death. It will address the weaknesses within the current system and implement the recommendations of the Shipman Inquiry’s third report 2003

Currently, apart from the coroners’ cases, only deaths followed by cremation are subject to formal checks. The new system will provide safeguards for all deaths, that are not referred to the coroner, and improve the accuracy when the cause of death information is written on the MCCD.


Since April 2019, a non-statutory national roll-out of the medical examiner service has been happening across England in the acute sector. By April 2020, this will become mandatory for all Trusts to have a service in place.

For further information….

Please visit the following link giving national updates: https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/establishing-medical-examiner-system-nhs/

As more and more services start their medical examiner services, we will post supportive information as to how they are finding the change in systems. In the meantime, please contact us on 01253 832400 or by td@bereavementsupport.co.uk and we’ll happily share what we’ve learnt from your local region.