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Coroners and Justice Bill

Volume 711: debated on Monday 22 June 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which recommendations made by the Shipman inquiry have not been incorporated in the Coroners and Justice Bill; and why those recommendations have not been so incorporated. [HL4220]

The coroner reform and death certification provisions of the Coroners and Justice Bill implement, in full or in part, a number of recommendations contained in the Shipman inquiry's third report, including the statutory duty on doctors to report certain deaths to coroners, the appointment of a Chief Coroner, an appeals system, independent inspection, and independent medical examiners to scrutinise the certificates of cause of death of all deaths not reported to the coroner. Other recommendations about coroners and death certification have been addressed by alternative means, including the framework within which services are delivered. As announced in the other place by my right honourable friend the former Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs (Harriet Harman) on 6 February 2006 (Official Report, cols. 607-08), and on several occasions in Parliament subsequently, the Government are not convinced that the inquiry's recommendation for a centralised death investigation service is the most effective model. Our preference is for coroners and medical examiners to be based at a local level, and while there will be close links between the two on specific aspects of their work, we believe that they should not be part of an integrated organisational structure. Recommendations made by the Shipman inquiry into matters that are beyond the scope of coroners and death certification—such as the control of drugs, complaints arrangements in health and social care, and medical regulation and revalidation—are being taken forward by the Department of Health.