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Copyright Notice, Limited Permissions, and Disclaimers
Preliminary response from The Coroners' Society, Monday 14th July 2003
The Society and individual members participated fully with the Inquiry and have noted with interest the various proposals in the Inquiry's Report. Coroners' main aim is to provide certainty to grieving families as quickly and efficiently as is possible. The recommendations in the Report require fundamental changes to the coronial system and will be studied and commented upon by the Society in due course, in conjunction with the various recommendations contained in the Luce Report (published on 4 June). It would be premature for the Society to make a detailed statement at this time but at this early stage the Society has grave concerns as to whether the proposed re-organisation of the coronial service as suggested will deliver all the benefits hoped for by Dame Janet.
Coroners are anxious that the system must not be reformed piecemeal and, as indicated in the report, believe that the most workable aspects of the Luce Report and the Shipman Inquiry Report must be developed in tandem. Coroners are also clear that there must be real commitment to providing adequate resources to enable long-awaited changes to be implemented properly.
As the Society commented when the Luce Report was first published, while coroners themselves would welcome the greater involvement of medical practitioners in inquests, the current strains in the Health Service mean that it is unlikely sufficient doctors will be available to fulfil the new role of medical assessor.
Meanwhile until changes to the system are implemented coroners were and are only ever able to work -
- within the limitations and powers given to them,
- within the available resources, whether or not these are adequate, and
- with a clear understanding among doctors and others as to the coroner's role, and
- they can only investigate cases which are referred to them and cannot identify cases which they would wish to investigate.
The initial concerns of the Society centre round -
- whether the considerable additional resources - both in terms of funding and medically-qualified personnel - which will be needed to implement these findings effectively will be forthcoming, and
- the reliance which may be placed on forms which seem to be very complex, the correct completion of which may well delay the completion of the whole death certification process unacceptably for bereaved relatives
The Society's primary objective remains to ensure that there is an effective and properly resourced death investigation service, locally available and urges the government to implement with all possible speed the many recommendations for a reform of the system which have been identified by the Society and contained within the Luce Report and Dame Janet's Report.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The Society gave evidence to the Inquiry, in both extensive documentary form and subsequently, in person in November 2002.
It also participated fully in debate by -
- responding in detail to the Inquiry's Consultation Document of October 2002, and
- attending and taking part in the seminar sessions in late January 2003.
It is not the Coroners' Society's intention at this time to put forward a spokesperson for interviews.
Issued on behalf of the Coroners' Society by Sue Stapely, Quiller Consultants Tel: 020 7233 9444 Mobile: 07885 798833
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Last modified: Monday, 09-Aug-2004 08:53:21 BST by: Malcolm Bishop