Care after death
Certification, registration and referring to the coroner
- COVID-19 is an acceptable direct or underlying cause of death.
- A medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD) can be accepted from any medical practitioner so long as they are able to state to the best of their knowledge the cause of death. A medical certificate of cause of death can be e-mailed to the local registration office.
- The period during which an attending medical practitioner completing an MCCD must have seen the deceased before death (the ‘last seen alive’ requirement) is extended from 14 days to 28 days before death. ‘Seen’ in this context includes consultation using video technology. However, it does not include consultation by telephone/audio only.
- The MCCD needs to be signed, scanned (or photographed) and emailed to the registrar as an attachment.
- In the event the MCCD cannot be sent to the registrar electronically and the next of kin/informant is self-isolating, please arrange for an informant to collect the MCCD and deliver it to the registrar to complete the registration process.
- An informant can be someone who was present at the death, a hospital official, someone who is ‘in charge of a body’, or a funeral director.
Referring to the coroner
- The normal list of reasons for discussing with the coroner still applies, with the exception of not having been seen within 14 days; this is now raised to 28 days.
- A death whilst in quarantine and Covid19 in itself are not reasons for referral to the coroner.
- If a medical practitioner cannot complete an MCCD or do so in a timely manner, the death should only be notified to the coroner if there are no other medical practitioners who can complete the MCCD.
Care of the deceased
- Public Health England has published some updated guidance on care of the deceased with suspected or confirmed coronavirus and can be accessed here.
- PPE must be worn
- Mementoes e.g. lock of hair must be offered using infection control guidance
- Spiritual Considerations: work with local pastoral teams. Religious persons to persons visits are not advised – default position is to use remote access (phone/video).
We have produced a summary of latest guidance and advice for funeral arrangements, including for different faith groups.
Please note that cremations should be authorised on the basis of form Cremation 4 only (form Cremation 5 is suspended).
The London Resilience Forum has now produced a list of nine key standards for funerals during the pandemic.
A great online resource for bereavement support is www.griefchat.co.uk. Using GriefChat is free of charge and is open Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm (UK time) to grieving or bereaved people.
Another useful site for support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies is Cruse Bereavement Care
Other resources include:
- Sudden has produced some dedicated tools and resources for supporting people after sudden death from COVID-19
- The Mayor of London has produced a leaflet for bereaved families, including information about contact with the body, funeral arrangements, core registration of death and bereavement support.