Covid-19 deaths: scrutiny by medical examiners required

New statutory guidance requires NHS trusts and NHS foundations trusts in England to ensure ‘scrutiny’ of deaths of health service and adult social care staff from the coronavirus.

These Directions came into force on 3 July 2020 and require deaths which have been reported to NHS England/Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care to be reviewed by medical examiners as part of the medical examiner system.

Scrutiny by medical examiners must be conducted in accordance with the National Medical Examiner’s good practice guidelines published in January 2020 as part of the broader programme of implementation of the medical examiner system.

Examiners are required to:

  • consider “whether there is reason to suspect that the death was a result of the person being exposed to coronavirus during the course of their NHS or social care work”; and
  •  inform NHSEI “if they consider there is reason to suspect that the death was the result of such exposure.”

But the Directions will not apply where a coroner conducts an investigation, a post-mortem or if the investigation has begun.

These Direction will remain in force until 31 December 2020 when the Secretary of State will review whether they are appropriate for them to continue.

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