Natalie McKail, the Scottish government’s first ever inspector of funeral directors, has revealed examples of bad practice discovered through inspections in her first annual report.
Some incidences in her report include a misidentification of two deceased people who had the same name and identification checks which were not “adequately carried out”. This incident was self-referred to inspectors by an unnamed funeral director after it resulted in the preparation and coffining of the wrong deceased person. A second funeral director later realised the error.
McKail also got a notification from a crematorium where a funeral director had presented a coffin with “leaking bodily fluids”. This resulted in the crematorium catafalque being contaminated, impacting on the presentation of a second coffin from an unrelated funeral which was damaged as a result.
Other incidences include a coffin’s name plate being written in marker and a funeral director taking the deceased “into their care” overnight.
Concerns were also raised regarding the care and storage of deceased during bad weather in early 2018.
McKail was appointed in 2017, following a scandal which saw numerous Scottish families denied access to their infant’s remains.
She said in the report: “I will be participating in both the Treasury and Competition Market Authority (CMA) reviews which have been recently announced, and like most people in the sector have been reviewing the scope and impact of this work to determine the interface with the existing programme of activity. I welcome these announcements and look forward to assisting colleagues where possible to create a fair and customer focussed operating environment for many years to come.
“Finally, I will also be continuing to carry out inspections throughout Scotland, and continuing to liaise with bereaved families and colleagues on complaint investigations. As such I’m sure will be learning more about the work of funeral directors in advance of reporting to ministers in a formal report on regulation, including recommendations as to whether licensing should be considered for the sector, at the end of this calendar year.”