Prestbury mum whose son committed suicide welcomes Government coroner changes
A MUM whose son committed suicide has welcomed Government plans to end a postcode lottery over how long it takes for inquests to be heard.
Sally Hillman, 69, from Prestbury, was devastated after her son, Alistair, took his own life in May 2011. The inquest took place 18 months later, which she says was far too long to wait.
The Government is proposing introducing stricter time limits on when an inquest takes place after a death, to stop big differences between regions.
Coroners will also be required to release bodies for funerals within 30 days of a death, and have to undergo new mandatory training.
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Justice Minister Helen Grant said supporting bereaved families during an inquest will be at the heart of the new coroner system in England and Wales.
Ms Hillman said: "You know an inquest is going to happen after the death, and it is not going to go away.
"You can't start thinking about rebuilding your life because you have to go through it all over again.
"The inquest took such a long time because the court couldn't get the reports.
"That is not good enough. Some people who have lost family members had to wait for a long time to find out what happened."
The current system has been criticised for lacking a national frame work, and the reforms mean coroners will have to report any cases that last more than a year to the chief coroner.
Mrs Grant said: "We need to end the postcode lottery that has plagued the coroner system for too long. We want a system that puts the needs of bereaved people first and foremost.
"I want to see all coroners deliver the same, efficient service across the board.
"We must be assured that coroners are conducting inquests quickly, with adequate care and with the right support available for relatives."
The reforms will also half the time limit, from 56 to 28 days, which organisations have to respond to a coroner report on preventing future deaths.
Last year, the Government introduced new guidance for bereaved people which sets out the standards they can expect from coroner services.