22nd March 2017

DoLS update: Notifying Coroners

Removal of the duty to notify coroners if someone dies when subject to a DoLS authorisation

Many of us are really pleased to learn that the coroner will no longer have to be informed when a person dies when they are subject to a DolS authorisation.

I have been lobbying for this change myself, having heard too often of the great distress that families feel when a natural death is then treated as if it is in some way suspicious.

Providers tell me how upsetting it is for everyone, staff and relatives alike, when on occasion even uniformed police have arrived shortly after the death and removed the body to a mortuary.

And many families have cultural reasons for wishing to bury a person immediately: for them there is an addition pain.

So I’m really pleased to share with you all this notification I’ve received from the Ministry of Justice:

‘From Monday 3 April 2017 coroners will no longer have a duty to undertake an inquest into the death of every person who was subject to an authorisation under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (known as DoLS) under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. 

In these cases an inquest will still be required if the person died before Monday 3 April 2017. However, for any person subject to a DoLS authorisation who dies on the 3rd, or any time after, their death need not be reported to the coroner unless the cause of death is unknown or where there are concerns that the cause of death was unnatural or violent, including where there is any concern about the care given having contributed to the person’s death. 

Any person with any concerns about how or why someone has come to their death can contact the coroner directly. This will not change where a person subject to a DoLS authorisation. What will change is that the coroner will no longer be duty bound to investigate every death where the deceased had a DoLS in place.   

For more information on coroner services please see the Coroner Services Guides at this link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guide-to-coroner-services-and-coroner-investigations-a-short-guide.’

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Rachel Griffiths

Mental Capacity and Human Rights Specialist

Rachel has huge experience and knowledge in the area of Mental Capacity, including how to recognise deprivation of liberty, when and how to assess capacity and how to go about making decisions in someone’s best interests. She is nationally recognised as a leading voice with regards to Mental Capacity, and is involved with setting the agenda as well as providing advice and information about Mental Capacity. The information, guidance and support that Rachel provides helps to ensure that the way people work is within the law and recognises that the person using services is always at the centre of any decisions made. Read more

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