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Last week, we received leaked guidance from an NHS Trust which revealed that doctors were not required to report COVID-19 as the cause of death for patients. Here’s what the guidance said:
‘Doctors are asked to use the standard MCCD (Medical Certificate of Cause of Death) form to certify death. ‘Pneumonia ‘or ‘community acquired pneumonia’ are acceptable at 1(a) on the MCCD. There is no requirement to write COVID 19 as part of the MCCD. It may be mentioned at 1(b) on the form, should the doctor wish.’
The guidance can be seen here.
We, at the Good Law Project, instructed a legal team to write a pre-action letter to the Trust, asking them to withdraw this guidance urgently. You can read the letter here.
Thankfully, the Trust conceded. They agreed to withdraw the flawed guidance, to write to staff informing them that this had been faulty, and to provide new and accurate guidance. They also agreed to conduct an urgent review into all death certificates issued over the past few weeks, since the flawed guidance had been provided.
However, we have no way of knowing if this was an isolated incident or whether it is part of a broader problem. But it is essential that we do, so that we can understand the true toll of this devastating novel coronavirus. The daily figures of deaths from COVID-19 are based on death certificates and these must reflect the true number of lives lost.
The UK authorities need to know to plan our response accordingly. Families deserve to know what happened to their loved ones. We all need the truth to hold the Government to account.
We ask the Health Secretary Matt Hancock to investigate whether this was an isolated incident or part of a broader issue of COVID-19 deaths being underreported to the ONS.
Will you sign the petition and call on Matt Hancock to take action to ensure all suspected deaths from COVID-19 are recorded?