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Ministers listen to our call to waive extra fees for bereaved parents

News and comment

Together for Short Lives is delighted that the government has decided not to charge a new medical examiner fee to parents bereaved of children up to the age of 18.

Under proposals consulted on by the government in 2016, a single medical examiner fee would have been introduced for deaths scrutinised by a medical examiner irrespective of whether the body of the deceased was cremated or buried. As most children who die are currently buried, this would have introduced a new charge on bereaved families.

Together for Short Lives expressed our concern at the proposals at the time alongside our fellow members of the National Bereavement Alliance.

Announcing the news in a written statement to Parliament, Care Minister Caroline Dinenage MP said: “The Government has proposed that all child deaths (up to age 18) be exempt from the cost associated with the Medical Examiner system. This aligns with the broader purpose of the Government’s recent announcement about steps to ensure that no bereaved family will have to pay for the essential costs of burying or cremating their child.”

Welcoming the news, Barbara Gelb OBE, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives said:

“I am delighted that ministers have listened to the concerns raised by Together for Short Lives and decided to waive the new medical examiner fee for children up to the age of 18. Families who provide long-term care for children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions suffer enormous financial pressures while their child is alive, in addition to further costs when their child has died. We believed that this new fee would have unfairly added to these pressures.

“Building on recent announcements that local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales will waive child burial fees, this important exemption will mean one less thing to deal with for bereaved families trying to come to terms with the nightmare scenario of losing a child.”

You can read the government’s full response to the consultation here.

Working with our partners in the National Bereavement Alliance, we will continue to press for better support for families bereaved of babies, children and young people. You can find out more about our work in this area here.

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