Outcome of the 2023 review into Coroner Services

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The recently called General Election has impacted heavily upon the work of the Government select committees and upcoming drafted legislation.

Particularly of note is the work of the Justice Select Committee who were preparing its report on the 2023 follow-up Inquiry into the Coroner’s Service together with formal recommendations.

This Inquiry into the effectiveness and capacity of the Coroner’s Service was to review progress made by the earlier recommendations from September 2021, including the central question of what progress has been made toward the goal of placing bereaved families at the heart of the Coroner’s Service.

Whilst the formal report is now not able to be published, a Letter from Sir Robert Neill KC, Chair of the Justice Committee, summarised the Inquiry’s findings to date.

The key findings covered:

  • the chronic under-resourcing and underfunding of the Coroner’s service
  • concerns regarding the fees for pathology services for Coronial work
  • the reiteration of the recommendation from 2021 that Coronial services should be united into a single service for England and Wales
  • enhancing the capacity of the Chief Coroner’s office to enable more support for overloaded Coroner areas
  • a National Inspectorate for Coroners in the absence of a national service
  • review of the “Triangle of Responsibility” model currently in place
  • improving Regional Co-operation
  • provision of Information
  • the Coroners’ Court Support Service – consideration of support from Central Government
  • Legal Aid and the representation of families at Inquest
  • preventing Future Deaths, including a review of the underlying IT systems to support this and consideration of funding for the “Preventable Deaths Tracker”.

The Letter sets out a clear suggestion from Sir Neill encouraging the new Government to “shake off what seems to us a worrying complacency and enact change with far more urgency than has been the case up to now.”

We can only wait to see what changes the new Government will bring to this vital service to provide improvement and support for the future.

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