Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet will next week (9th July) be considering moves to provide a more ‘streamlined’ coroner service.
Councillors are being recommended to approve a plan to merge coroner services across Hampshire, but also on the table is a merger with the Isle of Wight.
The Hampshire merger would save the city council £25,000 per annum through the closure of the Basingstoke office and more streamlined services. Meanwhile a merger with the Isle of Wight’s coroner services would save £15,000 per annum.
Highlights of changes
Both merger options will:
- Positively review the needs of the bereaved ensuring they are prioritised and met through the service operating under unified processes and procedures.
- Not impact on current service delivery
- Provide better resilience and allow the coronial service to better deal with fluctuations in demand,
- Ensure retained local justice
- Provide a consistent and streamlined service to meet the needs of bereaved families without adversely impacting on quality
- Accord with national policy and guidance in the context of a move towards larger coronial areas. Streamline existing processes for all partners, ensuring consistent delivery within the County and Hampshire Police service.
- Ensure the consistent and best use of the existing Coroner software (WPC).
- Improve outcomes including inquest timeliness. Provide staffing continuity across service area (managing sickness/caseload managed via WPC elsewhere within the area).
- Increase available support should mass fatality occur, there will be more staff in the area to cope as well as an increase in shared resources (hospitals/pathologists etc.)
- Make better and consistent technology at inquest
Merging with IW Coroner
The report for next Tuesday’s Portsmouth CC cabinet meeting (item 7) reads:
Option 2: Portsmouth City Council and the Isle of Wight Coroner Service
Merger incorporating the following coronial areas:
The City of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
In this model HCC take back responsibility for the SE Hants area so, based upon 2018 levels of demand for the service, the merged area would deal with approximately 2,500 deaths per annum.
The financial impact of the proposed revised structure of one Senior Coroner and a part time Area Coroner together with savings from economies of scale and improved buying power indicate a potential saving to PCC of approximately £15,000.
PCC would also seek to review the existing charging mechanism for deaths in QAH with HCC.
For Peter Baulf, city solicitor for Portsmouth City Council, the priority was still the families involved. He said:
“Both the proposed options for merging coroner services ensure the needs of bereaved families remain a priority and provide better accessibility to a more streamlined service.“
Source: BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme
Image: © Used with the kind permission of Brian O’Rourke