The General Register Office is to commence a consultation process on proposed changes to improve the efficiency on how deaths are registered.  It commences today, Thursday, 18th February 2021 and will run until Monday, 12th April, 2021.  

The consultation is seeking views from health stakeholders, members of the public and people with an interest in proposals to improve the system by which deaths are registered in Ireland and to review the length of time available to family members to register a death. 

The proposals result from work undertaken over the past few months by the General Register Office, which is part of the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Health, HSE, Coroners Service and the Central Statistics Office.

The proposals to be considered are:

  • Medical practitioners to electronically report a death within 24 hours after their pronouncement of the death
  • The length of time by which relatives should register a death to be reduced from three months to approximately two weeks from the date of death.

The proposals follow on from concerns raised about the length of time it takes for deaths to be registered in the State.  Unlike other countries, Ireland does not have a system in place whereby a person’s death is notified to public authorities immediately following death.  This has implications for national population statistics, public health management and for co-operation with international bodies.

The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, TD, said:     

There hasn’t been a single community left untouched from the heartache of loss over the past year.

Covid-19 has left devastating effects on thousands of our families, who, like so many others, are still dealing with the grief of losing someone close to them.

Registering a death is not easy – at any stage – pre-Covid or post-Covid.

This initiative, from the General Registrar, is about easing the burden on families who sadly lose their loved ones.

I’d encourage anyone with an interest to submit their views to this consultation.

The consultation document is available online here or from the General Register Office at [email protected]

Mr TJ Fleming, Registrar General commented:

The death of a relative is a sensitive time for all members of the family and their wider communities and there is never a good time to seek change to time honoured and traditional practices. I welcome the proposals of the working group and invite the widest range of views to the consultation. 

This consultation allows for the views of a broad range of representative bodies and concerned members of the public to make their opinions known and have their concerns considered.

 Proposed process

It is proposed to introduce a revised process to consist of three elements that will replace the existing registration process.

–       Notification stage: This will be a new requirement whereby the registered medical practitioner who pronounces death will report it electronically to the HSE within 24 hours of the date of death.

–       Medical certification of cause of death (MCCD) stage:  It is proposed that the MCCD should be sent electronically to the HSE within five calendar days of the date of death with provisions for extensions where the MCCD cannot be completed due to the need to determine the cause of death or where there is a referral to a Coroner.

–       Registration stage: This will be completed by relatives of the deceased, or other qualified informant in the absence of a relative.  It is proposed that registration should be done within five working days of receipt by the relative of the Medical certification of cause of death from a medical practitioner.  The current timeframe whereby a death must be registered is three months after the date of death.

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