Werneth Primary Care Centre, Featherstall Road South, Werneth, Oldham, OL9 7AY | Telephone: (0161) 620 5677

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Community Deaths

Posted on February 13th, 2023

For the past 10 years, WMP has been providing an additional service for the community where if a patient died out of hours, clinicians would make themselves available to complete a Death certificate in certain circumstances.  This was a unique and voluntary service where the practice clinical staff completed this work as a benefit to the community, in their own time. A death in the community is governed by strict laws which must be followed by the practice with little room for discretion. If not followed there is the potential for practice individuals to be the subject of serious action by the Coroners office and the police. We are aware of the tenets of the Muslim faith which encourage prompt burial. Unfortunately, in the UK, these tenets cannot trump the law.

Over the past few years, we have noted that this service is attracting increasing levels of abuse and intimidation from the deceased’s relatives and Funeral directors involved in the burial. Last month, this reached an unacceptable level. Practice staff have been intimidated by relatives, abused, had their religious motives questioned, staff not of the Muslim faith have been harassed and ridiculed and staff have been harassed on their personal mobile numbers. Usually while the death certificate was being administered anyway.

We believe that funeral directors may be encouraging this behavior for non religious reasons. This is completely unacceptable and indefensible.

As well as this, a new system has recently come into practice in Oldham where an additional level of scrutiny has been implemented for all deaths in the community. Medical Examiners, who work alongside the Coroners office, must review all deaths in the community (including expected deaths) and authorise the signing of a death certificate. As Medical Examiners only work in normal working hours, we are now unable to issue death certificates outsides of the these hours.

Hence it is for these reasons that we have decided to end this service immediately. All deaths will now only be administered during the normal working hours of the Medical Examiners service. Any that occur outside of these hours (e.g weekends and after 18:30) will be administered on the next working day. There will therefore be no need for any relatives or representatives of the deceased to attend or contact the surgery.

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  • Monday
    08:00 to 18:30
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    08:00 to 18:30
  • Wednesday
    08:00 to 18:30
  • Thursday
    08:00 to 18:30
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