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Work to Reduce Paperwork for Grieving Families

Work to Reduce Paperwork for Grieving Families

8 April 2014

Grieving families will have less paperwork to contend with if moves to streamline processes around the notification of death are successful, says the Funeral Directors Association.

The Registrar-General of Births, Deaths & Marriages is exploring ways of making the registration process less intrusive for families immediately after someone has died.

The CEO of the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (FDANZ), Katrina Shanks, and the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM), Jeff Montgomery, met recently to discuss the issue.

“Mr Montgomery is keen streamline the process for the notification of death for registration so it’s not as intrusive for when the relatives have to provide personal information, and the association welcomes this.

“It’s a great move. Funeral directors are in favour of anything that takes away the burden of paperwork for families at such a stressful time.

“The streamlining could occur between the deceased’s GP, the local district health board, and Births, Deaths and Marriages.”

Mrs Shanks says issues recently identified included:

• Cause-of-death information being handwritten by doctors. This is often difficult to read and needs to be checked with the doctor involved, who is often difficult to contact.

• Such difficult-to-read information being manually typed into computer systems in two organisations and so sometimes differing.

• Family members often having to contact BDM to get information to give to funeral directors who then give it to BDM.

• Funeral directors registering the death online then having to go to a BDM office to collect the death certificate to deliver to a DHB where the cause-of-death information often originated.

“So, a funeral director fills out the death registration form with the family and passes it on to BDM. But the GP and/or the DHB already have most of the information, and if the process was automated then most of the information required would already be on the form.

“That would save families a lot of hassle at a difficult time.

“BDM wants to pursue this and FDANZ is keen to help.

“This work dovetails in with the Government’s push to use digital platforms to share patient information, such as the scheme launched by Health Minister Tony Ryall this week, where GPs’ records can be shared with hospital emergency departments, specialists, and after-hours GPs.

“It’s possible that cross-sector collaboration could eventually occur between Health, Justice, Coroners and FDANZ and the funeral industry,” Mrs Shanks says.

Funeral directors have been able to register deaths online since 2005 when BDM introduced its Death Notifications Online service. Since then more than 109,000 registrations have been handled this way. The system significantly reduces the time it takes for funeral directors to receive a death certificate, meaning funeral arrangements can proceed sooner. More than 80 per cent of deaths are notified online and BDM is working to reach 100 per cent.

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