Sixth Report of Session 2021-22 Contents

Appendix 1

S.I. 2021/504

National Health Service Trust (Scrutiny of Deaths) (England) Order 2021

1.In its letter to the Department of 9 June 2021, the Committee requested a memorandum on the following point:

In relation to article 3(1)(b), given that the factors determining the requirement to notify the coroner include subjective opinions of a particular medical practitioner, explain how it can be clear or unclear in the abstract whether the requirement applies.

2.The Department’s response is as follows.

3.Article 3(1)(a) of the National Health Service Trust (Scrutiny of Deaths) (England) Order 2021 (‘the Order’) confers a power on an NHS trust to scrutinise a death where the senior coroner has no duty to investigate under section 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. A medical examiner employed by an NHS trust carries out an independent scrutiny of the cause of death before the medical practitioner’s certification of the cause of death on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.

4.The purpose of Article 3(1)(b) of the Order is to allow for scrutiny of a death by a medical examiner where a medical practitioner is not certain whether they are required to notify the senior coroner under the Notification of Deaths Regulations 2019 (“the 2019 Regulations”). In such circumstances the medical practitioner may refer a death to a medical examiner to scrutinise until such time as it might become clear whether the death must be notified to a senior coroner.

5.Both the decision to notify under the 2019 Regulations and a decision by a medical practitioner to refer a death for scrutiny in reliance on Article 3(1)(b) involve the subjective opinions of a medical practitioner. The medical practitioner is in a position to know, and to inform the trust whether the practitioner considers it is unclear whether they are required to notify the death. Certainty in the abstract is not required for the purposes of this Order, which is intended to clarify the power of a trust to scrutinise a death where there is uncertainty as to the medical practitioner’s obligations under the 2019 Regulations.

Department of Health and Social Care

15 June 2021




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