Background Medical Examiner services have been introduced in England and Wales by the Department of Health and Social Care, on the recommendation of several public inquiries. Medical Examiners work independently to improve safeguards for the public, assist in formulating Medical Certificates of Cause of Death, support clinical teams in referring to Coroners and ensure that relatives have an opportunity to ask questions about the death of their loved one. In our Trust (a large University teaching hospital), a full Medical Examiner Service was introduced in February 2020. This study presents the findings of a service evaluation undertaken in June 2021.
Method(s) A questionnaire was sent to medical staff in the trust (5182) using both a Likert scale and a free text box for each question. 105 responses were received of which 99 were from Consultants. The responses in the free text boxes were analysed by 2 clinicians using two forms of thematic analysis: long table approach and line by line coding. Both clinicians identified the same 5 themes.
Results There were 5 very clear themes that emerged from the free text data in the survey.
The positive impact the service has had within the Trust
Better support around interactions with and referrals to the Coroner
The positive impact the service has had in supporting relatives
Some concerns that the service does not cover weekends and bank holidays
Some concerns about deskilling/increased administrative burden
Conclusion From the findings of the service evaluation, there has been an overwhelmingly positive response from senior medical colleagues in the trust. The service has added value and supports relatives at a very emotionally difficult time. The findings will ensure continued development of the service and concerns raised will be incorporated into service delivery plans for the coming year.
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