Guidance and arrangements following a death



The death of a loved one is always a challenging and distressing experience for family and friends. There are a range of services that may help:

Unfortunately, normal practices and traditions may be affected due to the restrictions that have been put in place by the Government to address the pandemic.

The unprecedented circumstances mean some families may not have the opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones before they die and there may have to be changes to how the death is managed.

This will be particularly upsetting for bereaved families, but the council and other organisations are working hard to ensure the process remains dignified, respectful and supportive.

Information, advice and organisations to contact, who may be able to support families going through a bereavement during the pandemic.

Public Health England has issued advice on how funerals can be conducted safely during the coronavirus pandemic and it is essential that the Government’s guidance is followed to minimise the spread of the Covid-19 infection.

You can find out more about how council services have changed in response to the Government guidance below.

Registering the death Click to get info

We know that a death in the family is a very sad and difficult time. Council staff will be available and easily accessible, even during the pandemic, to sensitively support families through the death registration process.  In line with the revised government guidelines for registering deaths, all death registrations will be conducted over the telephone and there is no requirement to make an appointment. 

Where the death has occurred in a hospital, the hospital will send the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) to the Waltham Forest Registry Service with the details of the next of kin.  A registrar will then contact the next of kin and complete the death registration over the phone, including the documentation required to release the body for burial.  This will happen within 12 hours of the death occurring.

Where a person has died at their home, the family members should contact NHS 111 who will send out a GP from a specialist team who will then undertake the necessary paperwork and send this to the Waltham Forest Registry Service.  Where the cause of death is COVID-19, there will be no requirement for coronial involvement.  A registrar will then contact the next of kin as above and complete the death registration.

If you have any questions about registering a death, please contact our registry service on 0208 496 3708.

The Government guidance is clear that there is a real risk of transmission from any practices that involve close contact with the body of someone who has died from, or with the symptoms of Covid-19. In these circumstances, it may not be possible for those who would normally view, wash, prepare or dress the body to do so due to the risk of infection.

The guidance includes strong advice that anyone in the vulnerable group should not have any contact with a body given the significant risk to their safety. For those not in the vulnerable group, the Government advice is that there should be no contact with the body without appropriate PPE, and that the use of PPE in these circumstances should be under the supervision of a professional trained in the appropriate use of PPE. The council is not able to supply PPE for this purpose given the national demand for PPE, and our need to prioritise frontline workers.

Funerals Click to get info

Due to the Government guidance we have had to place some restrictions on funerals, including limiting those attending services at our cemeteries to close family members only. In order to comply with social distancing rules and to ensure our staff can work safely, this applies to all funerals, not just those where the deceased has died from, or with the symptoms of Covid-19.

Mourners should follow national social distancing rules and funeral details should not be publicly advertised to limit the risk of others attending.

There are a range of options that bereaved families may wish to consider which will allow mourners to participate remotely. These include live streaming the service, online memorial gatherings and virtual books of remembrance. Families may also wish to plan memorial services for loved ones that could be held in the future.

In line with Government guidance those with coronavirus  symptoms, those required to self-isolate and anyone from an ‘at risk’ group should not attend funerals.

Coroner Click to get info

Coroners investigate deaths in certain circumstances, including when the cause of death is unknown. In Waltham Forest this is provided by Her Majesty's Coroners Eastern Area of Greater London. Inquests are still taking place although measures have been introduced to ensure social distancing guidance is adhered to.

Where the cause of death is COVID-19, there will be no requirement for coronial involvement.