The coroner is a doctor of lawyer responsible for investigating deaths in the following situations:
- the deceased was not attended by a doctor during the last illness or the doctor treating the deceased had not seen him or her either after death or within the 14 days before death
- the death was violent or unnatural or occurred under suspicious circumstances
- the cause of death is not known or is uncertain
- the death occurred while the patient was undergoing an operation or did not recover from the anaesthetic
- the death was caused by an industrial disease
- the death occurred in prison or in police custody.
If you want information about a death which has been reported to the coroner, contact the coroner’s office. You can get the address from the police station or, if death was in hospital, the hospital official dealing with deaths.
The coroner may arrange for a post-mortem examination of the body. The consent of the relatives is not needed, but they are entitled to be represented at the examination by a doctor. When relatives have told the coroner they wish to be represented, the coroner will, if at all practicable, tell them when and where the examination will take place.
If the death occurs in hospital, the coroner will arrange for the examination to be carried out by a pathologist other than one employed at or connected with that hospital, if a relative asks the coroner to do so and if it does not cause an undue delay.
The removal of a body from the place of death to the mortuary for post-mortem examination will usually be paid for by the coroner. The relatives may choose the funeral director. Consent will have to be given if any organs or human tissue need to be kept once the coroner no longer needs them for enquiries.
However, in some areas a funeral director will be appointed by the coroner to remove the body from the place of death to the hospital mortuary. The relatives can then choose a funeral director to carry out the funeral, once the coroner has released the body.
If the post-mortem shows the death was due to natural causes, the coroner may issue a notification known asPink Form B (form 100) which gives the cause of death so that the death can be registered. The coroner usually sends the form direct to the registrar but may give it to you to deliver.
If the body is to be cremated the coroner will give you the Certificate for Cremation (form 6) which allows cremation to take place.