9. Next Steps and Considerations
The Scottish Government will draw on this report and other sources to inform its revisions of the draft Code of Practice.
A significant number of comments made by respondents across this consultation indicated that SMEs or rural funeral directors could be disproportionally negatively affected by the Code. Further, there was concern the Code did not sufficiently account for non-traditional approaches to funeral services. The Scottish Government intends to seek out the views of these groups of funeral directors to inform the next iteration of the Code.
The Scottish Government notes there are currently no minimum requirements one has to meet to practice as a funeral director in Scotland or the UK. However, the Scottish Government is currently unable to require Scotland's funeral directors to achieve a particular level of training or qualification. This is because the infrastructure is not yet in place to deliver widespread accredited training and qualifications to Scotland's funeral directors and funeral arrangers/administrators or funeral service operatives/assistants/drivers/bearers (see Annex A for more information about accreditation). Additionally, Scottish Ministers are unable to specify a training course, or qualification; they are able to specify a SCQF level requirement only. As a result, while it is not possible to include training in the Code of Practice, the Scottish Government will work with trade associations and others in the sector to determine the most appropriate way of delivering accredited qualifications for funeral directors in Scotland.
Responses to this consultation noted that funeral directors who do not have their own mortuary facilities may routinely make use of local NHS mortuaries (see Question 1). The Scottish Government was aware of this prior to the consultation. Considering the significant, prolonged strain on a wide-range of NHS Scotland services, the Scottish Government does encourage funeral directors to invest in their own mortuary facilities, where this is possible. Building on this, the proposed Code requires a funeral director to either have their own mortuary, or to have a formal SLA in place with a third-party provider. The proposed Code requires that all relationships between funeral directors and third-parties (including the NHS), in respect to the care/storing of deceased people, be formalised.
The Scottish Government recognises that the Code will introduce statutory requirements to an industry that is facing regulation for the first time in its history. The Scottish Government is mindful of the need to mitigate the risk of some requirements in the Code having a negative impact on funeral directors (for example by allowing for a reasonable timeframe to meet the requirements of the Code before it comes into force). Ongoing discussions with the funeral sector will include a focus on these issues. Further, before final publication, the Code will be scrutinised by the Short-life Working Group on Care of the Deceased. Following publication, the Code will be periodically reviewed.