Which deaths are referred to the Coroner?
Approximately half of all deaths in England and Wales are referred to HM Coroner. A death should be referred if;
- the cause of death is unknown;
- it cannot readily be certified as being due to natural causes;
- the deceased was not attended by a doctor during the last 14 days or viewed after death;
- there are any suspicious circumstances or history of violence;
- the death may be linked to an accident (wherever it occurred);
- there is any question of self-neglect or neglect by others which may have caused or contributed to the death;
- the death occurred abroad (including Scotland and Northern Ireland)
- a Public Authority has been involved in the care of the deceased, particularly if:
- the death has occurred or the illness arose during or shortly after detention in police or prison custody (including voluntary attendance at a police station and remand to a Bail Hostel)
- the deceased was detained or was a voluntary patient under the Mental Health Act 1983
- the deceased was subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Order (Mental Capacity Act 2005)
- the death might have been contributed to by the actions of the deceased (such as a history of drug or solvent abuse, self-injury or overdose);
- the death could be due to an occupational disease or related in any way to the deceased’s current or previous employment;
- the death occurred during an operation or was in any way related to an anaesthetic (in any event a death within 24 hours of admission to hospital should normally be referred);
- the death occurs within 1 year of surgery and the cause of death is implicated to the medical procedure/treatment (whether invasive or not);
- there is an actual or potential expression of concern about a patient’s treatment, care or management;
- the death occurs in the surgery of a GP;
- the death is linked with child birth or an abortion (but not a stillborn child);
- the death is of a child (under 18 years of age)
- death of a Mother within 1 year of Child Birth (including stillbirth or spontaneous abortion);
- there are any other unusual or disturbing features to the case.
The above list is not exhaustive.
If there is any doubt the Coroner’s Office should be contacted for further advice. If you are unsure why your relative’s death has been reported please call us and a Coroner’s Officer will discuss it with you.
Reports are made mainly by doctors and the Police. Upon receipt of a death report the Coroner will review the information and decide what should be done. Please see below for the various possibilities.
What will the Coroner do once a death has been referred?
When a death is reported to the Coroner’s Office the Coroner will usually consider the information on the same or the next working day. The following sections set out some of the possible courses of action the Coroner will take.
We understand that families can be concerned about the process and especially whether it will delay their funeral. Every effort is made to complete the Coroner’s inquiries as quickly as possible. Please feel free to talk to a Coroner’s Officer if you have any questions (see: contact us section).