New System of Medical Examiners launches at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust

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North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust is implementing a new initiative on 1 April following the introduction of a new national system of Medical Examiners. This is being launched in England and Wales from April 2019 and the aim is to review all deaths in acute hospitals.

A total of 10 Medical Examiners have been appointed across the Trust from existing staff. There are seven at Peterborough City Hospital and three at Hinchingbrooke Hospital. Medical Examiners are experienced consultants and their role is to carry out a  proportionate review of the medical records, discuss the case  with the attending physician and speak with the family of the person who has died. Medical Examiners will support junior colleagues to improve the accuracy of completing the death certificate, answer relatives’ questions and escalate any concerns.

The Medical Examiner system will provide much needed support for bereaved families and help improve patient care. Medical Examiners will identify cases for further review where lessons can be learnt in improving patient care. They will also  work closely with the existing Clinical Governance process within the Trust. They will not replace existing mortality reviews or national audits.

 Suzanne Hamilton, Deputy Medical Director, said:  “The new process will mean all deaths are reviewed by a consultant. There will be an opportunity for the relatives to speak with the Medical Examiner so if there are any concerns they can be fed back immediately. The standard of care within the organisation should improve and it will provide a good learning opportunity for the junior doctors who complete the death certificates.”

Special training is required in order to become a Medical Examiner; including completing 26 e-learning modules and attending a one-day learning event. This event includes contributions from patient groups, the faith community, a Senior Coroner and the National Medical Examiner. Peterborough City Hospital held a one-day learning event on 18 March 2019. 

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