What to do when someone dies unexpectedly/ suddenly?
Call the paramedics on 999 and report the death. An ambulance crew will arrive and verify the death*. Please don’t be alarmed if the Police turn up when dealing with an unexpected or sudden death. The death will then be reported to the coroner’s office who will perform a Post Mortem to determine the cause of death.
What to do when someone dies and the death is expected? (Relatives/Friends would have been informed by the patient’s GP or hospital consultant if the patient is approaching end of life and receiving End of Life treatment).
If the death occurs during working hours, the family would have been given the telephone number for the District Nurses if they are receiving district nursing care or the telephone number for Rapid Response who will then verify the expected death. Relatives/ friends of the deceased patient can then contact a funeral director of their choice and arrange the funeral. The funeral directors will ask whether or not the deceased had a preference in terms of burial or cremation, if they didn’t, this decision will lie with the relatives/ friends of the deceased.
If the patient has been seen by his/her GP within the last 14 days and the GP feels able to, they will issue a Medical Certificate Cause of Death**. Please bear in mind this can take up to 5 working days and in some case’s longer. If the GP is unable to issue a MCCD or hasn’t seen the patient within 14 days, the GP will have to write to the Coroner’s Office who will decide whether or not the GP can issue a MCCD. Once the MCCD has been issued an appointment can then be made with the registry office in order to register the death***. The registry office will ask you how many certificates you would like. Please note, each certificate is chargeable.
*Confirmation or verification of death is defined as deciding whether a person is actually deceased. Confirmation or verification of death can be undertaken by a registered nurse.
**Medical Certificate Cause of Death (also known as a death certificate): an official document signed by a doctor of the cause, date, and place of a person's death.
***Registering the death: This is a process a relative/friend of the deceased needs to do in order to obtain the legal documents they’ll need to arrange the funeral and prove the patient is deceased.
If The Death Occurs In Hospital
The treating hospital doctor will issue a MCCD. Once the MCCD has been issued an appointment can then be made with the registry office in order to register the death. The registry office will ask you how many certificates you would like. Please note, each certificate is chargeable. In the meantime, relatives/ friends of the deceased should contact a Funeral Director of their choice to start arranging the funeral. The Funeral Directors will ask whether or not the deceased had a preference in terms of burial or cremation, if they didn’t, this decision will lie with the relatives/ friends of the deceased.
Note For Cremation:
Your Funeral Directors will usually liaise directly with the surgery regarding the additional certification required.