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In Times of Bereavement

At this sad time it’s useful to know the process for registering a death. This section is to explain the difference between confirming and certifying death in relation to GPs’ obligations.

English law:

  • does not require a doctor to confirm death has occurred or that “life is extinct”
  • does not require a doctor to view the body of a deceased person
  • does not require a doctor to report the fact that death has occurred
  • does require the doctor who attended the deceased during the last illness to issue a certificate detailing the cause of death

If Death Occurs At Home

Confirmation and certification of death

  1. The family should telephone the doctor (GP or out of hours doctor) or appropriately trained nurse or Paramedic who will visit to confirm that death has taken place.

  2. Contact a local funeral director.

  3. The family should arrange to collect the death certificate -usually from the surgery. This can only be done by the doctor who saw the patient in the last 14 days of their life. This can take 1-3 days to sort.

  4. If the doctor who saw the patient in the last 14 days of her life is not available, the surgery should contact the Coroner for Middlesex. After written information is submitted a decision will be made as to whether a death certificate can be issued or whether a postmortem needs to be performed.

  5. Take the death certificate is to the Registrar’s Office, (together with the deceased's Medical Card and Birth Certificate, if available) in the area in which the death took place. Alternatively you can register by declaration at any convenient Registrar’s Office but certificates will not be available as these will have to be posted to you a few days later.

  6. The Registrar will normally issue a Green coloured certificate for you to give to your funeral director who will look after necessary arrangements for the funeral. The Registrar will also issue a white notification certificate for the DSS. They will also enquire as to the number of Certified Copies you require for dealing with the deceased finances (a fee is payable for each copy).

If The Death Occurs In Hospital

  1. Contact a funeral director to inform him/ her services are required.
  2. Collect the certificate from the hospital then follow 4 - 5 as above

Note For Cremation

Your funeral director will usually liaise directly with the surgery regarding the additional certification required.

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