Advice for GPs about completing a death certificate

Guidance for doctors about completing a Medical Certificate Cause of Death (MCCD) and when to report to the Coroner.

MCCD is the abbreviation for Medical Certificate Cause of Death.

Yes

You're required to provide a cause of death and issue a death certificate (under the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953) if:

  • you're a registered medical practitioner
  • were in attendance during the deceased's last illness

You need to state the cause of death to the best of your knowledge and belief. The doctor who attended for the last illness and completed the MCCD must be the same doctor.

You can issue a death certificate if:

  • you're a registered medical practitioner, and you were in attendance during the deceased's last illness
  • this was more than 14 days before their death

You need to:

  • see the body of the deceased after death and indicate this on the death certificate by circling statement A.

Do not release the death certificate to the family until the body has been viewed.

It does not need to be the deceased's named GP that issues the MCCD.

Any registered medical practitioner who has attended the deceased during their last illness can issue the MCCD if they have seen the deceased within the 14 days prior to the death or they have seen the body after death.

No, do not include any abbreviations on your MCCD.

You should report to the Coroner any death that cannot readily be certified as being due to natural causes.

(A) The registered medical practitioner suspects that the person's death was due to—

  1. poisoning, including by an otherwise benign substance;
  2. exposure to or contact with a toxic substance;
  3. the use of a medicinal product, controlled drug or psychoactive substance;
  4. violence;
  5. trauma or injury;
  6. self-harm;
  7. neglect, including self-neglect;
  8. the person undergoing a treatment or procedure of a medical or similar nature; or
  9. an injury or disease attributable to any employment held by the person during the person’s lifetime;

(B) The registered medical practitioner suspects that the person's death was unnatural but does not fall within any of the circumstances listed in sub-paragraph (A);

(C) The registered medical practitioner—

  1. is an attending medical practitioner required to sign a certificate of cause of death in relation to the deceased person; but
  2. despite taking reasonable steps to determine the cause of death, considers that the cause of death is unknown;

(D) The registered medical practitioner suspects that the person died while in custody or otherwise in state detention;

(E) The registered medical practitioner reasonably believes that there is no attending medical practitioner required to sign a certificate of cause of death in relation to the deceased person;

(F) The registered medical practitioner reasonably believes that—

  1. an attending medical practitioner is required to sign a certificate of cause of death in relation to the deceased person; but
  2. the attending medical practitioner is not available within a reasonable time of the person’s death to sign the certificate of cause of death;

(G) The registered medical practitioner, after taking reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of the deceased person, is unable to do so.

Old age can be used if a more specific cause of death cannot be given, in the absence of any factors that require a Coroner to be informed of the death and the deceased is aged 80 years or over.

The death should be reported to The Coroner's Service if it is believed that the deceased's current or previous employment may have contributed to their death.

Notify the Coroner of the death if you suspect it was due to trauma or injury.

You need to report the death if the deceased:

  • suffered a fall before their death resulting in a significant injury which you think contributed to their death
  • has sustained a fracture which you think contributed to their death

Contact the local cemeteries office for advice about completing a cremation form.

Follow the following steps (in accordance with the Notification of Deaths guidelines).

  1. Download GP notification form (Word, 492KB)
  2. Complete and send to coroners.service@suffolk.gov.uk

You cannot report a death by phone.

Further guidance

Immediately call the Police on 101 if a person died in sudden and unexpected circumstances.

Yes. Call 0345 607 2040, option 1 or email coroners.service@suffolk.gov.uk