In Times of Bereavement




When someone dies - frequently asked questions

What do I need to do straight away?

If someone dies at home and their death is expected

  • During the hours the GP surgery is open, call us on 0117 959 8939 to inform us that the patient has died.
  • If the patient is known to the District Nursing Team, they should also be contacted.
  • If it is out of hours, call 111.
  • The death needs to be verified by a medial practitioner. This can be a Doctor, registered nurse or paramedic.

If someone dies at home unexpectedly

  • Call 999 and explain what has happened

How do I obtain a death certificate?

  • If the death is expected and the GP has seen the patient within the past 28 days, the GP can issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD)
  • The GP surgery will send this to the Register Office
  • The next of kin should contact the Register Office on 0117 922 2800 or online Register a death ( to arrange an appointment. The death must be registered within 5 days of it happening (this includes weekends and bank holidays)

When can the GP issue the MCCD?

  • The GP can issue a MCCD when:
  • They have seen the patient within 28 days of death
  • Is satisfied as to the cause of death
  • Is satisfied the death is wholly from natural causes
  • Is satisfied that the death is not otherwise reportable to the coroner
  • Why might the GP not be able to issue an MCCD?
  • Certain cases need to be reported to the coroner:
  • The death was due to poisoning
  • The death was due to exposure to, or contact with, a toxic substance
  • The death was due to the use of a medicinal product
  • The death was due to violence, trauma or injury
  • The death was due to self-harm
  • The death was due to neglect
  • The death was due to a person undergoing any treatment or procedure of a medical or similar nature
  • The death was due to an injury or disease attributable to any employment held by the person during their lifetime. 
  • The person’s death was unnatural but does not fall into any of the above categories
  • The cause of death is unknown
  • The person died whilst in custody or state detention
  • The attending medical practitioner is not available within a reasonable time of the person’s death to sign the certificate of cause of death

If the death has been reported to the coroner, you won’t be able to register the death until the coroner has completed their investigations.

The Coroner may be able to issue an MCCD or authorise the GP to issue the MCCD. Otherwise, a post mortem may be required.


What if the patient’s GP is not available?

  • Most of our GPs work four days each week in the GP surgery.
  • Therefore it is likely that if the patient’s GP is not available on the day the patient dies, they will be available the next working day to complete the MCCD.
  • As it is a legal requirement to register the death within 5 days of it occurring, if a GP is on leave and would therefore not be able to provide the MCCD within this time frame, another GP may be able to provide the MCCD but this would require discussion with the Coroner’s Office.
  • We are sensitive to cultural and religious requirements regarding timings of death certification and burial. We will endeavour to accommodate these but this cannot always be facilitated with the GPs working days. If someone is nearing the end of their life, please discuss your cultural requirements with your usual GP so we are aware in advance and can try to accommodate this.

Funeral directors

Choose a funeral director who’s a member of one of the following:

These organisations have codes of practice - they must give you a price list when asked.

Some local councils run their own funeral services, for example for non-religious burials. The British Humanist Association can also help with non-religious funerals.


Funeral costs

Funeral costs can include:

  • funeral director fees
  • things the funeral director pays for on your behalf (called ‘disbursements’ or ‘third-party costs’), for example, crematorium or cemetery fees, or a newspaper announcement about the death
  • local authority burial or cremation fees

Funeral directors may list all these costs in their quotes.

For free independent advice on bereavement issues, you can find more information at