What to do first.
If death occurs while the person is in their own home or in residential care their doctor should be called. It may be that the doctor attends in person or, if it is out of surgery hours, it may be that a duty doctor attends. Once the doctor has confirmed that the person has died the funeral director may be called. Funeral directors are usually available at short notice, either day or night, and they will take the deceased into their care at their funeral home. The doctor's surgery will advise when the medical certificate, advising the cause of death, is available for collection. The death can then be registered as described below.
If death occurs in a hospital or hospice, the relevant doctor will issue the medical certificate and then will advise whether this is to be collected from the ward or an administration office.
The death can then be registered as described below. It is likely that the deceased will remain at the hospital or hospice until the necessary paperwork is completed. Therefore, there is no need to call the funeral director immediately. However, it may be advisable to inform them in the daytime that their services will be required. Most funeral directors are available seven days a week.
In some circumstances, the doctor may need to refer the death to the coroner's office. (Please see the section The Coroner).
For further information go to the Directgov website - Rights and Responsibilities
Changes post Shipman enquiry
The entire system outlined above for registration of the death is likely to change as a result of the Shipman Inquiry and the subsequent report recommendations. Please check that this information is still current before using it.