Bereavement support

Find out where you can get help and support for bereavement.

What to do when someone passes away?

This guidance aims to clarify the distinction between confirming and certifying death in relation to GPs’ obligations.


This is the process of confirming that the person is actually deceased. This can be done by a paramedic, a nurse, a competent person or a doctor. If the person dies at home at the weekend, on a bank holiday or between 6pm and 8am on a week day then you need to call the NHS111 out of hours service. They have a duty to send someone out to you either in person or by video link to confirm the person has died.

If the person dies on the street then call the police and NHS 111.

If the person dies in hospital then the hospital bereavement office will support you.

If death occurs in a Care Home any competent adult can confirm death within a care home. A doctor does not need to visit the care home to confirm death.

If the person dies at home between 8am and 6pm on a week day then call the GP practice.

Once the death is confirmed the body can be moved to the funeral parlour or the mortuary

After the death has been confirmed

  1. If the death was expected and the patient has been seen within 28 days by an attending doctor then usually the patients GP can complete the death certificate. The death certificate needs to be completed within 5 days of death.
  2. Once completed it is emailed directly to the Registry office in Guildford – click on the link. Guilldford Registry Office Register a death The family can then make an appointment with the local Registrar and register the death. The Registrar will normally issue a Green coloured certificate for you to give to your funeral director who will look after necessary arrangements for the funeral. The Registrar will also issue a white notification certificate for the DSS. They will also enquire as to the number of Certified Copies you require for dealing with the deceased finances (a fee is payable for each copy).
  3. If the patient has not been seen within 28 days of death or the death was not expected and the emergency service have been involved the body is usual moved to the local mortuary then the matter is referred to the Coroner. The 5 days to complete the death certificate do not apply and the Coroner will decide the next steps and they will detail the cause of death.
  4. If the GP has issued the death certificate and if the body is to be cremated then the GP can complete the Crem 4 form. This usually takes about 2 weeks and requires a conversation with the family. If the death is unexpected then it may be the Coroner issues the certificate to allow the cremation.
  5. If The Death Occurs In Hospital the Hospital will completed the Death Certificate.

Bereavement support

Find out where you can get help and support for bereavement.

You can contact these organisations yourself without speaking to a GP first.

Cruse Bereavement Care

Support, advice and information for children, young people and adults when someone dies. The charity also works to enhance society’s care of bereaved people.

Cruse Bereavement Care can help with:

  • understanding your bereavement
  • 1-2-1 support and groups

Phone: 0808 808 1677

Visit Cruse’s website

Other organisations that could help you

There are a number of other NHS services and charity groups that work in our area.

Date published: 18th December, 2023
Date last updated: 5th April, 2024