A report produced by New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out with Science (“NZDSOS”) on the Coroner’s Amendment Bill has brought up serious questions about investigations into deaths in New Zealand.
from The Expose
A deceased person is usually referred to a Coroner when a medical doctor is not able to write a death certificate because they are not confident of the cause of death or are not comfortable with the circumstances surrounding the death.
This Bill proposes to allow a legally trained person to sign off the cause of death as “unascertained natural causes” when a medically trained person is unable to do so. That sounds fishy and the people of New Zealand think so too if the submissions are anything to go by.
A spokesperson for NZDSOS said, “it is clear on glancing through the submissions [to the Justice Select Committee], New Zealanders see this amendment as a cover-up attempt, either by accident or design”.
Proposed Changes to the Coroners Act 2006
The Bill, currently going through the House, aims to speed up the process of coronial investigations so family members are not left in limbo for years. Proposed recommendations include:
- Establishing a new position of ‘coronial associate’;
- Recording cause of death as ‘unascertained natural causes’ in certain circumstances;
- Enabling coroners to hold coronial inquiry solely in chambers, where appropriate;
- Enabling written findings to be issued stating cause of death only, where appropriate, not circumstances.
Written submissions were due on 28 Sept 2022. Oral submissions for the Bill were presented to the Justice Select Committee on 6 October. It is interesting to note that there are no medical people on this Select Committee and that the coronial service is run by the Ministry of Justice.
“The reactions from some of the Committee were mixed, to say the least, but they know now that they are under scrutiny for any wrong-doing “, said the NZDSOS spokesperson.
Several submitters spoke of a ‘slippery slope’. One suggested that rather than fobbing deaths off as “unascertained natural causes,” a more correct classification would be “sudden death – not investigated.”
Several pathologists and forensic pathologists voiced their concerns about the lack of medical input and suggested that a pathologist or forensic pathologist be included in, or aligned with, the coronial service…