Under consideration PE1894: Permit a medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD) to be independently reviewed

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to change the Certification of Death (Scotland) Act 2011 to permit a medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD) to be independently reviewed by a Medical Reviewer from the Death Certification Review Service, where the case has already been reviewed by the Procurator Fiscal but not by a medical professional expert.

Previous action taken

I have written to my constituency MSP, Mr Jackson Carlaw, drawing his attention to the fact that a weakness exists in the 2011 Act which prevents independent medical review of MCCDs where the death has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal for any reason.

He suggested one avenue to consider pursuing would be a public petition.

Background information

Section 4(6)(e) of the Certification of Death (Scotland) Act 2011 provides that an application for review of the MCCD by an interested party is ineligible where the cause of death of the deceased person has been investigated by a Procurator Fiscal.

It is self-evident that review by a legal expert is not equivalent to review by a medical expert. Furthermore, explanatory notes for the Act state that certificates for any deaths referred to the Procurator Fiscal are excluded from medical review.

In Scotland, anyone can refer a death to the Procurator Fiscal, however, there is no obligation to investigate. An investigation may also only involve asking the certifying doctor if they are willing to certify the cause of death to the best of their knowledge and belief, which is what is required from a medical practitioner.

I believe that this creates a dangerous loophole that could be exploited to cover up sub-standard care.

  • Created by Kenneth Robertson
  • Considered from 23 August 2021

This petition is now under consideration by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee

Find out about the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee’s discussion of this petition

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