Changes introduced by the government to streamline the death registration process during the current lockdown have been successfully implemented and had a positive impact on the service in Kent.
Ensuring death registrations are completed effectively is a necessary part of our society and like everything this has had to adapt to the changes required as a result of the Coronavirus epidemic. It is no longer possible to book an appointment to have a face-to-face appointment with a KCC registrar. Instead, a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) is sent online from the relevant doctor, hospice or hospital to a new central inbox, from where the details are forwarded to one of the 12 registration locations.
The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and contact details of the person who will register the death, which is most commonly a relative of the deceased, enable the KCC registrar to contact them to complete the registration so arrangements for the funeral can go ahead.
Tina Bray, one of KCC’s four Quality and Standards Officers, responsible for ensuring the legislation and delivery of the county’s registration service, said the new ways of working and procedures were in place just a few days after the government announced the revised legislation.
The removal of the face-to-face appointment, which usually took at least 30 minutes, meant that the registrars can now check the paperwork, including the MCCD, before contacting the person registering the death by phone. This has saved time, helped keep staff safe and reduced inconvenience for both parties and streamlined the process.
“Generally, I think the changes have been welcomed by most people, including the person registering the death who often find the process very stressful.” The team of customer services Officers have adapted quickly to the changes and are working every day to make the process of registering a death as smooth as possible at what is such a difficult time for informants only heightened by the current pandemic.
One of the messages received by the Registration Service said : “What a marvellous way of doing things. This way is so much better than before; it was all a bit of a faff in that you had to try to get the death certificate from the doctor, then get the appointment booked. The fact that you are calling people in their own homes is great.”
“I expect an awful lot will be learnt from the process going forward and things may change – I do realise it must make a lot more work for yourselves. Thank you so much for all your care and attention today, it’s been exemplary.”
After registration, a certificate for burial or cremation is emailed to the relevant funeral director or crematorium, and Tina said funeral directors, hospitals, doctors and bereavement teams had been very supportive and helpful in adapting to the changes.
The legislation that enables this new way of working could be in place for the next two years, but it is unclear whether the old system would return, considering the successful and relatively smooth implementation of the changes.
The people who can register a death are a relative of the deceased; a person who was present at the death; an administrator at the hospital where the person died; or a funeral director.
The registration process is free, although there is a charge for copies of the death certificate.