Doctors told they DON'T need to list Covid-19 on death certificates

NHS doctors are being told they DON’T need to list Covid-19 on death certificates of coronavirus patients, leaked documents reveal

  • Hospital guidance was obtained by not-for-profit organisation Good Law Project
  • Tells medics ‘pneumonia or community-acquired pneumonia are acceptable’
  • Says Covid-19 may be mentioned in other areas of form ‘should the doctor wish’
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Doctors at one NHS trust are being told there is no need to list Covid-19 on death certificates of coronavirus patients, documents have revealed.

The leaked hospital guidance, obtained by not-for-profit organisation Good Law Project, tells medics filling in death certificates that ‘pneumonia or community-acquired pneumonia are acceptable’ to put as the direct cause of death.

The guidance, which is titled ‘guidance for death certification of proven Covid-19 patients during the current pandemic’, says proven coronavirus deaths must be reported to the hospital site manager.

But under the header ‘general principles’ it adds: ‘There is no requirement to write Covid-19 as part of the medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD).’

It comes as the latest figures show there are now more than 103,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the UK with 13,729 recorded deaths. Pictured: Workers outside a mortuary at Lewisham Hospital, London, wheel a trolley used for transporting dead bodies

The document states Covid-19 may be mentioned in another area of the form relating to indirect causes of death ‘should the doctor wish’.

However, the guidance then reiterates that pneumonia – a known complication of Covid-19 – can be written down.

It says ‘pneumonia would be appropriate on a MCCD’ as the direct cause of death.

The guidance appears to contradict official guidance on the issue from coroners and the NHS which says ‘it would be satisfactory’ to give Covid-19 as the cause of death even if it is only suspected and no confirmed test results are available.

The official guidance says Covid-19 ‘is an acceptable direct or underlying cause of death for the purposes of completing the MCCD’.

The official guidance also says a medical practitioner can fill in the MCCD with these details if they are able to ‘state the cause of death to the best of their knowledge and belief’.

Doctors at one NHS trust are being told there is no need to list Covid-19 on death certificates of coronavirus patients, documents have revealed (stock image)

In a statement, the Good Law Project said: ‘If doctors are being gently discouraged from reporting deaths as Covid-19, we have no way of knowing if the Government figures on deaths from coronavirus – the daily in hospital figures as well as the weekly Office for National (ONS) figures – are accurate.

‘The Good Law Project has instructed lawyers to write to the NHS hospital trust today, asking them to clarify the guidance urgently.

‘So far we’ve only seen the guidance from one trust. We have no idea if hospital trusts up and down the country are issuing the same guidance.’

It comes after concerns were raised earlier this week that medics and GPs are failing to record Covid-19 on death certificates.

A whistleblower in the south of England told Channel 4 News that some doctors were listing long-term conditions such as dementia instead even if they suspected coronavirus. 

It comes as the latest figures show there are now more than 103,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the UK with 13,729 recorded deaths. 

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