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Care home briefing 155 – Hospital deaths to be reviewed by second doctor

On 17 March 2016 Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, announced that all deaths in hospital will be reviewed by a second doctor from a different department in the hospital. This will be a ‘second look’ to see if there are any concerns regarding the death. It is not intended to be a detailed investigation.

The new regime is due to apply from 2018. There are approximately 250,000 deaths in hospital each year. In some cases there may be concerns about how the death arose. The doctors can raise those concerns with the relevant NHS Trust or the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The proposals for this regime were first made by Dame Janet Smith following the Shipman Inquiry in 2005. The Francis Report echoed similar comments.

Although the regime is to apply to deaths in hospital, clearly if the second reviewing doctor identifies concerns regarding the death that arose because of poor care in the community, such as tissue viability issues, that led to the hospital admission, they could raise this. It is anticipated that such matters could be referred through to the CQC, or indeed the coroner, as appropriate. It must therefore be envisaged that when care home residents are transferred to hospital and sadly die there, there will be increased scrutiny of the care up to the point of transfer.

If you would like any more information or guidance about these matters, please contact:

Andrew Parsons

T. 020 7227 6750


This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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