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Govt needs to trust us more, says DMAG

A ‘lessons learned’ report put together by DMAG (Death Management Advisory Group) on how the funeral industry allied with Government has coped so far with Covid-19 has made recommendations for improving response to any future increase in deaths.

Many of the issues highlighted revolved around communication issues, consultation, confused messaging and some poorly drafted legislation.

DMAG’s wish list of changes prompted by the Covid-19 experience so far was summarised in the following points:

Funeral sector success: A recognition by central government and the devolved administrations that the Deceased Management sector successfully achieved all three of its objectives during the pandemic:

  • Mortuary capacity was not overwhelmed
  • an increased number of dignified funeral services were delivered
  • an increased number of dignified cremations and burials were delivered

These were achieved largely through extending existing services, based on extensive experience managing seasonal excess deaths and previous flu outbreaks.

Consult the sector more on policy: The Deceased Management sector has unparalleled experience of coping with excess deaths. Central government and the devolved administrations use this resource in a proactive manner to advise, shape and develop policy and guidance. The sector should be provided with the opportunity to comment on draft policy and/or guidance, to ensure it accurately reflects the desires of government for the sector, is deliverable, and is sensitive to the needs of the bereaved.

Make DMAG key sector reference: Building on the close working relationship central government and the devolved administrations have developed with DMAG, strengthen their single coordinating point of contact for all deceased management legislation, policy and guidance being produced across government. Recognise DMAG as a first point of contact.

Value our expertise: Large scale emergencies invariably result in the involvement of a range of support organisations. However, while the deceased management sector has a clear understanding of the need and means for increasing capacity for disposing of the dead, and many support organisations do not, resulting in confused messaging, creation of unwanted capacity, seeking and deploying Pandemic Multiagency Response Teams (PMART). A greater recognition of the expertise within the sector locally and improved coordination of LRFs in England and Wales by the lead government department, will ensure a more consistent and effective response.

Let’s go digital: In view of the success of the electronic/telephone registration and transmission of Disposal Certificates electronically, the General Register Office makes the current changes to the death registration process permanent.

Video conferencing and streaming is the future: In view of the success of video conferencing across the Deceased Management sector, funeral arranging, streaming services and meetings, its continuing and extended use is encouraged.

Develop a cremation portal: A UK-wide central cremation service availability portal is developed and its adoption encouraged.

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