The specialist charities offering support to suddenly bereaved people have long known
that lack of information is the cause of greatly added distress, at the worst possible
time in their lives. In 1998, representations were made to the Home Office that the
available ‘coroners’ leaflet did not give clear enough information, particularly
about the rights of the next of kin under current law, and it was accepted that a
new leaflet should be published.
The new leaflet When Sudden Death Occurs - Coroners and Inquests was compiled with
the help of people bereaved by sudden or unexpected deaths and was published by the
Home Office in March 2000. The leaflet was reprinted in February 2002 and is also
available in Welsh and the following ethnic minority languages: Bengali; Chinese;
Gujarati; Hindi; Punjabi; Urdu. The aim of the leaflet is to alert bereaved relatives
to immediate issues, without overwhelming them, and to indicate the procedures which
may follow a coroner's involvement.
The specialist charities had also recognised that additional information would be
needed if deaths reported to coroners required post mortem examinations and, in some
cases,* an inquest. This booklet, Sudden Death and The Coroner - Coroner's Post Mortem
and Inquests, provides additional information for those who may need it and those
who seek to support them. It is written from the perspective of suddenly bereaved
people and recognises the work of the Coroner's Leaflet Group and many other people
and organisations who have been determined to do something about the most frequently
stated cause of added distress - lack of information and failure in communication.
Coroner's Leaflet Group December
* The number of deaths reported to coroners in 2007 was 234,500. Post mortems were
ordered in 47% (110,400) of cases and inquests were held on 13.2% of the deaths (30,800).