Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Final rest for sudden death rule - Commissioner reverts to the old system after funeral directors and members of the public cry foul

Published:Sunday | July 3, 2016 | 7:07 AMRyon Jones

Operators of funeral homes not contracted by the Government are breathing a collective sigh of relief following the reversal of procedures surrounding the treatment of some sudden-death cases.

Several persons who lost family members to sudden deaths in recent months are also hailing the Police High Command for changing the cumbersome and burdensome system it introduced in February.

When The Sunday Gleaner first reported on the issue members of the Funeral Directors Association of Jamaica (FDAJ) had labelled directives given in the February 11 Police Force Orders – that a government-contracted funeral home should be called to collect bodies even when the deceased had a known medical condition – a ‘breach of civil and human rights’.

Affected families who had spoken to our news team last month, branded the move unnecessary and a great source of inconvenience.

FORCE ORDERS

But in the Force Orders of June 24, the rule for cases where the deceased had a known medical condition was relaxed by Police Commissioner Carl Williams following consultation with the Ministry of National Security.

The change allows for instances where the deceased had a known medical condition. The body no longer has to go to a government-contracted funeral home.

“Where the police have ascertained that there is a doctor willing to sign the medical certificate of cause of death, especially in the case of the aged, the police will note the name of the doctor for inclusion in the station diary as well as the sudden-death register, and allow the family to contact a funeral home of their choice,” said Williams in the Force Orders.

“I want to say thanks to the minister and his team, but we are hoping and trusting that, in the future, we will be able to get things done easier without using this media,” said Melvin Honeyghan, president of the FDAJ.

“We are relieved, as we do not feel that there is anymore unfair competition being practised by the Government. Because we think it was a matter of unfair competition what they had done,” added Honeyghan.

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com