• The salient points for healthcare professionals and organisations are as follows:

    • The overriding duty to set dates for inquests and PIRs at the opening of an inquest has been emphasised. This new practice can obviously cause a problem when hearings are scheduled on dates and allotted times when Trust managers and witnesses are not available.
    • The increase in volume of cases completed within 12 months comes as no surprise given the incentive for coroners to hear cases within 6-12 months and the requirement now to provide an annual return on all outstanding cases over 12 months.
    • The reduction in the number of jury inquests is again not surprising given the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 removal of the requirement to summon the jury for deaths in custody or state detention where death was by natural causes. In contrast, there has been an increase in inquests relating to “Dols” (deprivation of liberty safeguard) patients following Chief Coroner’s Guidance No:-16.
    • Prevention of Future Deaths Reports (PFD) have increased as anticipated, because of the change from “discretion to duty”; 504 PFD reports completed since the first Annual Report in 2013/14.
    • This report also highlights the progress made following the reforms and the drive towards achieving national consistency through more guidance, training and discussions with coroners than currently exists.

    For advice, training and support on inquests please contact John Sheath on 01622 776406 or email johnsheath@brachers.co.uk.

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