In Times of Bereavement

When a loved one dies at home

Losing a loved one is of course one of the most distressing events that can happen to anyone. This page is designed to help you manage as best you can by giving you some of the vital information you will need.

Whether you are able to read it in advance because of a known diagnosis or whether something has suddenly happened, we hope that you will find it useful.

The doctors and team at the surgery are here to help, and this page will also help guide you to the many other people and organisations that are there to support you through a difficult time.

Expected death

Contact your GP immediately, either at the surgery (during opening hours) or via the out of hours service.

If district nurses are involved, they can also be contacted on 01603 518444 between 08:30 and 17:00.

If death occurs during the night (between 18:30 and 08:00) you do not need to contact a doctor until the following morning, unless you want to.

The death can then be verified by either a registered nurse or doctor and a certificate (confirmation of death) will be completed. Please note that this is not the official death certificateThe nurse or doctor will confirm to you that everything necessary has been done to ensure that the person’s body can be left in situ and for how long.

Please be aware that even in the case of an expected death you are likely to feel shocked and distressed. It is a good idea to make yourself some strong tea and to take things slowly. Bear in mind that you may not take in information as readily as usual, and you may want to write things down in order to remember them.

The funeral director can then be contacted and the deceased released to their care.

They are there to offer lots of helpful advice and you can talk to them if you have concerns of any kind.

The death certificate

The patient’s regular GP can then prepare the death certificate. This may take up to 2 days as the doctor completing the death certificate, must have seen the patient within 14 days prior to death.

It is not unusual for the doctor to discuss the cause of death with the coroner, even if the death was clearly from natural causes. This will be necessary if the deceased died suddenly, and had not been under a doctor’s care during the past 14 days. This does not mean that a post-mortem examination is necessary, but the death certificate cannot be released, until confirmation of the coroner’s agreement has been received.

If the deceased was subject of a DOLS (Deprivation of Liberty Status), the coroner would also be informed prior to the death certificate being issued. This may apply to patients in care and nursing homes, so this should be established with the care home, coroner’s office or surgery as it may not be lawful to proceed with the funeral until the coroner has given permission.

Registering the death

A relative can now arrange an appointment with the registrar to register the death. The process takes about 30 minutes and the registrar will guide you.

Telephone: 0344 800 8020.

You will almost certainly need extra copies of the death certificate in order to inform bank etc. The registrar can provide them for you, there will be an extra charge for them, but they will be less expensive than asking for them later.

You will need to take the death certificate from the doctor.

If possible you should also take:

  • Medical card.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Marriage certificate.
  • Documents re state pension or allowance.

Don’t worry if some or all of these documents are unavailable, the registrar will still be able to register the death.

The registration should be done within 5 working days of the death, it is possible for this to be extended in certain circumstances but this needs to be discussed with the registrar.

Information required by registrar:

  • Date and place of death.
  • Address of the deceased.
  • Full names including the birth name of a married woman, any former married names and any other names by which the deceased was known.
  • Place and date of birth, the country of origin for people born outside the UK.
  • Their current or former occupation.
  • Details of their husband, wife or civil partner.
  • Whether they had any government pension or allowance.

If the deceased is to be cremated, another form has to be completed by 2 doctors. This involves both doctors speaking to the next of kin and any other agency involved in the care of the patient. They can then complete the cremation papers. This requires two doctors to sign a form. Part 1 is completed by the doctor of the deceased and part 2 by an independent doctor.

This has to be completed at least 2 days prior to the cremation.

The doctor and the funeral director will manage these arrangements.

In the case of a sudden death

  • Contact emergency services 999.
  • Both ambulance and police will be mobilised. You should leave the area untouched, except for any action needed for resuscitation.
  • If there is any suspicion that a crime has been committed, then the police family liaison officer will guide you through the process.