Death Certification Review Service Annual Report: 2016–2017

Each year in Scotland, there are approximately 57,000 deaths. Every death in Scotland must be certified by a doctor who completes a form called a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD). The MCCD provides a permanent legal record of the death, records information about the death (including the cause of death) and allows the death to be registered.

The arrangements for death certification and registration have been extensively reviewed. The Certification of Death (Scotland) Act 2011 introduced a number of changes to the system. In particular, it strengthened checks on the accuracy of MCCDs by setting up a new national system of proportionate, independent scrutiny of those deaths not reported to the Procurator Fiscal, namely, the Death Certification Review Service (DCRS). The review continues to be free at the point of delivery.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland is named in the Act as the organisation responsible for running the service and for certain other specific duties, including managing the process of administering and authorising the burial and cremation of people who have died outside the UK and are returned (repatriated) for burial or cremation in Scotland.

The aims of the Death Certification Review Service are to improve:

  • the quality and accuracy of MCCDs
  • public health information about causes of death in Scotland, and
  • clinical governance in relation to death certification.

This report marks the end of the service’s second year of operation, delivering a national system of proportionate, independent scrutiny of those deaths in Scotland not reported to the Procurator Fiscal. Through our work, we improve the accuracy and quality of completion of Medical Certificates of Cause of Death (MCCDs), provide better public health information and contribute to safer clinical practice. The service continues to successfully fulfil its function and meet the required targets in a cost effective manner.

Published Date: 8 September 2017