Natalie McKail, the former Inspector of Funeral Directors in Scotland, has been appointed to succeed the Rt. Hon. David Heath CBE as chair of the Independent Funeral Standards Organisation (IFSO).
McKail’s appointment is said to reflect a decision taken by the NAFD Governing Board to make “prudent adjustments” to IFSO’s operational structure, in response to the ongoing developments in the external policy environment which affect IFSO’s ability, in the short-to-medium term, to become a regulator for funeral firms beyond those already in NAFD membership.
Since it was launched last year, the NAFD said the IFSO has built a “strong service and brand” – designed to meet its objective of delivering independent and proportionate voluntary regulation for the UK funeral sector that boosts consumer trust in funeral home standards of care.
However, it added the announcement of licensing of funeral directors in Scotland, the inclusion of the funeral sector in the Fuller Inquiry into care of deceased people and the continuing absence of clear direction from the Ministry of Justice on their preferred regulatory model has necessitated these adjustments, which will ensure IFSO’s provision of independent standards monitoring remains unaffected, but pause growth plans until the policy direction is clearer.
McKail will be supported by an independent board, who will provide oversight of the work of IFSO’s team of Quality, Risk and Compliance managers, led by Nigel Cooper, and ensure seamless continuity of IFSO’s independent standards monitoring service to the 4,100 UK funeral homes in NAFD membership.
Independent chair of the NAFD Governing board, Jonathan Rees, said: “We launched IFSO to become a regulator for the entire funeral sector. However, these recent policy developments have combined to fundamentally change IFSO’s operating environment and short-term growth potential and so the NAFD Governing Board took the decision to ensure that IFSO’s pace of growth and operating costs could adapt in response, while continuing to provide an independent quality assurance model.
“In Natalie, we benefit from her extensive regulatory experience of the funeral sector and understanding of both the Funeral Director Code and the Statutory Code in Scotland – and I am delighted that she has agreed to come on board. She was also the architect of what is now the IFSO inspection regime, having undertaken an independent review of how NAFD members were inspected in 2019.”