For GPs and hospice doctors: refer a death

When to refer a death

You should refer a death if:

  • it was unexpected, unexplained, or sudden
  • it could have been caused by an industrial injury or disease
  • there was a recent fall
  • there were safeguarding issues
  • the doctor looking after the patient hadn’t seen them within 14 days before or after their death (currently amended to 28 days, due to COVID-19. See revised guidance below.)
  • the person was subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding Order
  • the person’s GP is on annual leave or has left the surgery
  • the person wasn’t treated by a doctor during their last illness
  • the family of the deceased have concerns about the cause of death

For a full list of what types of deaths need to be reported, see the Revised Notification of Deaths Regulations 2019 guidance on GOV.UK (published 26 March 2020).

Refer a death
(This link will take you to our online referral form)

What happens after you refer a death

After you’ve referred a death, we’ll email you a copy of the referral. This will include a unique reference number. You should use this and the person’s last name when you speak to us about your referral.

We’ll contact the person’s family within 24 hours to let them know what will happen next. We will keep the family updated throughout the process.
A coroner’s officer will be assigned to the case.

The circumstances of the death will be discussed with the Coroner and the person’s family.

The coroner will then decide whether to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD), or order a post mortem.

We know this is a stressful time for the family, and we’ll try our best to conduct the investigation quickly, so it doesn’t delay funeral arrangements.

We don’t provide help with cremation documents once an MCCD has been issued. You can find guidance on cremation on GOV.UK.

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