Skip to main content

When a child dies: legal requirements

This page explains some of the things that have to happen after a child has died.

By law, we have to review the death of every child under 18. The team who does this is called the Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP).

The CDOP is made up of people from public health, local health services, social care services and the police. Other organisations may be invited to give specialist advice.

The panel uses information about each child’s death to consider whether it can make recommendations to:

  • prevent similar deaths
  • improve services for children and families

Report a child’s death

If you’re a parent, you will need to register your child’s death with the Register Office.

If you’re aware of the death in a professional capacity, such as a paramedic, doctor, police officer, GP, health visitor, midwife or social worker, you will need to report a child’s death to CDOP online. Paper forms are no longer accepted in Waltham Forest.

GPs can find information about their involvement in the child death review process on the BMA website.

Parents and carers may feel able to contribute

You’re invited to share information about your child that you feel may help the review process.

It’s not possible for parents or family members to attend CDOP meetings. However, if you’d like to know their findings, we’d be happy to share them with you. Please contact the CDOP coordinator at the address in the Contact section below. 

All the information reviewed at CDOP is treated with respect and in strictest confidence. None of the findings, recommendations or reports will name your child or family.

We would like to express our sincere condolences to you at this sad time.

Unexpected deaths

There are two types of death: expected and unexpected.

An expected death follows a period of illness or long-standing terminal medical condition where prevention is not possible.

An unexpected death is where death is not anticipated as a significant possibility. This could include an unexpected collapse, an incident which leads to death, or an incident that starts events leading to death.

What happens after an unexpected death

When a child dies unexpectedly, a ‘rapid response’ meeting is held by key professionals within the first few days after the child’s death.

The aim of the meeting is to get all the facts surrounding how your child died. The Child Death Overview Panel will use this information in their review.

Sometimes this means we need to arrange a visit to where your child died. This may be by one or more of the following: police officer, health professional, social worker.

All unexpected deaths must be reported to the Coroner. This will have been explained by the doctors and professionals following your child’s death. Whilst the Coroner is independent of the process, they will be invited to share relevant information with the CDOP. The CDOP will also share information with the Coroner.

Contact

CDOP Co-ordinator

London Borough of Waltham Forest
Town Hall
Forest Road
Walthamstow
E17 4JF

Email:  cdop@walthamforest.gov.uk

Telephone: 020 8496 3691

Useful contacts: bereavement support for parents, children and families

You can find a listing of bereavement support services on the Directory. The list gives details of organisations that can support you at this sad time.

Need more advice ?

rating button