Update on telephone death registrations


The process of telephone death registrations was a provision introduced as part Coronavirus 2020 Act, with this act due to expire on March 24, below is an update on the process of registering deaths by Sadie Nightingale, Head of Coroners, West and North Northamptonshire Registration Service, Excess Deaths County Lead.

Dear All,

We write to update you on telephone death registrations which were introduced as an emergency measure under the Coronavirus Act 2020 in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the sunsetting of the Coronavirus Act which is due to cease on the 24th March 2022.

Primary legislation has not been introduced to retain over the phone death registrations, which means telephone death registrations will end on March 24th, 2022, and from the 25th March death registrations will revert to a face to face appointment, undertaken at the Registration Office.

However, secondary legislation has been introduced by way of the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) Order and a change to our regulations which will enable some arrangements to remain and take effect from 25 March 2022. The new legislation will enable us to retain the electronic transfer of the medical cause of death certificate (MCCDs). We as a service have seen great improvements to our overall process and service delivery by being able to triage any MCCDs being sent over to us prior to the informants arriving for their appointment. We would therefore like to encourage you to continue with our current way of working by sending the MCCDs to the email inbox instead of providing this to the informant.

The email for the West Registration Service is RBDinbox.ncc@westnorthants.gov.uk

The email for the North Registration Service is RBDinbox.ncc@northnorthants.gov.uk

ARRANGEMENTS FROM 25 MARCH 2022

  • All deaths will need to be registered in person as the provision to register deaths by telephone will no longer be in force.
  • A funeral director will no longer be able to act as a qualified informant.
  • A medical practitioner who has not been in medical attendance during the deceased’s last illness will no-longer be able to certify the cause of death (to complete a medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD)).
  • To be able to issue an MCCD, the certifying medical practitioner will need to have been in attendance during the deceased’s last illness and either seen the deceased within the 28 days prior to death (the extension to 28 days has been retained via a change to secondary legislation) or after death.
  • ‘Seen’ in the context of attendance includes consultation using video technology. However, it does not include consultation by telephone/audio only.• The new arrangements will enable MCCDs to continue to be received electronically from medical practitioners but will additionally remove the need to subsequently receive a hard copy. As the e-copy will have the same legal status as the paper. All organisations that issue MCCD’s will need to retain the MCCD for 4 weeks after the date of issue• Post registration disposal certificates can continue to be issued electronically to the family appointed Funeral Director.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you what information the Registration Service requires to enable successful death registration due to common errors we experience which often delay the death registration. Please ensure:

  • Writing must be legible with no abbreviations or acronyms
  • GPs must sign include their full name and GMC number
  • Complete section 1 – 4 and A – C require circling as appropriate
  • Last seen alive date must be completed and within 28 days of death (if outside of this timeframe a referral to the coroner is required).
  • When scanning and emailing the MCCD we only require front and back scanned (you can remove the notice to informant section).
  • Retain the hard copy MCCD for 4 weeks post issuing *New

Cremation paperwork

We have also taken the opportunity to seek an update from the MOJ in relation to cremation forms. The MOJ have confirmed the following: 

The Form 4 After the 24 March 2022:

A medical practitioner can complete the form Cremation 4 if they attended the deceased (including visual/video consultation) within 28 days before death, or viewed the body in person after death (including for verification).

The requirement to complete a confirmatory medical certificate (form Cremation 5) was temporarily removed by the Coronavirus Act which is due to expire on 24 March 2022; it is the government’s intention that it will not be re-introduced after the expiry date.  Unless otherwise notified, cremations can continue to be authorised on the basis of one medical certificate (form Cremation 4), without the requirement to also complete form Cremation 5

The form Cremation 10 will continue to be completed by the crematorium medical referee.

If you have any questions around the new working processes from 25th March 2022, please feel to contact us.

Kind Regards,

Sadie Nightingale

Head of Coroners, West and North Northamptonshire Registration Service

Excess Deaths County Lead

Sadie.Nightingale@westnorthants.gov.uk