Please note that although the death will need to have been registered before funeral arrangements can be finalised, you can, nonetheless, begin to make provisional arrangements even before you have collected the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.
The Department of Work and Pensions publishes a leaflet called 'What to do after a death (D49)'. This is available online at: www.gov.uk, the Post Office, The Register Office or one of our Patient Affairs Offices. This leaflet contains relevant guidance and information and gives details of any financial help which may be available to you.
When a child's death is sudden and unexpected or when their stay in hospital is less than 24 hours, doctors may be unable to issue a death certificate. The Coroner then has to become involved by law, although sometimes, after discussion, a certificate can be issued. The Coroner may require there to be a post-mortem; he has a legal right to insist on this. Once the Coroner takes charge, then he / she will issue the form authorising the Registrar to issue a death certificate; the Coroner will contact the family to tell them when he has issued the form to the Registrar. This rarely takes more than a few days.
Sometimes a formal identification of your child is needed in front of the Coroner or his representative (usually a Police Officer). Do not worry about this. It is a normal legal formality and the nursing staff will help you with it.
You can still make provisional funeral arrangements for your child but you may prefer to spend time with your child in the Chapel of Rest at the Funeral Directors once your child is moved there.
Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
You will need to collect the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death from the Bereavement Office. The office is open from 9.00am to 12.30pm and from 13.00pm to 16.00pm on weekdays. To avoid unnecessary waiting, you are advised to telephone for an appointment on: 01932 722319 or contact via switchboard bleep 5073.
Burial outside of England and Wales
If you wish your child to be buried outside of England or Wales (this would apply to Scotland and Ireland as well as all other countries), the Funeral Director will be able to help you arrange this. When you register your child's death, you will need to buy at least two of the certified copies of the death certificate (some consulates and embassies require more). You give these to the Funeral Director so that he can obtain an "Out of England Certificate".
You or your child may have wished to help another child live by offering their organs for donation following death. Please do not hesitate to ask a member of nursing or medical staff if this would be possible for your child. Corneas from any child over 1 year can be used for up to 48 hours. Heart valves, from anyone over six months old, can be used for up to 72 hours. (The transplant of any major organ would depend on the suitability of the case, and might not be possible with very young children).
More information on this can be obtained from the Site Co-ordinator for the hospital who will be able to contact the transplant co-ordinator for the region for further advice.