Department of Health and Social Care responds to the Sudden Bereavement Charter

‘The Government is committed to improving access to support from bereavement specialists and helping to signpost to and raise awareness of bereavement services, such as Sudden and other signatories.’

Good to see the Government responding to our Sudden Bereavement Charter, but disappointing the Department of Health and Social Care is not continuing its financial support to bereavement charities beyond 31 March. With unexpected deaths now accounting for 1 in 4 bereavements, we will continue to campaign for the rights of suddenly bereaved families across the UK.


You can view and download the full response from Nadine Dorries MP, Minister of State for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health.

This Sudden Bereavement Charter — produced collaboratively — shines a light on the acute and often grave needs of people bereaved unexpectedly. This includes people who have died due to an immediately fatal or suddenly life-limiting condition such as COVID-19, brain haemorrhage, or an event such as an accident, homicide, suicide or other disaster.

People who are suddenly bereaved, whether at home or overseas, have a right to: 

  1. Live in a society that recognises the personal impact of a sudden bereavement and the importance of access to equitable and appropriate support for children and adults bereaved unexpectedly; and whether one, or many, families, friends or colleagues are affected. 
  2. Access, if needed, to support from bereavement specialists with expertise in helping suddenly bereaved people from day one, to safeguard welfare and wellbeing at a time of personal disaster, with such services appropriately resourced and supported by government and other statutory funders.
  3. Access to NHS mental health care as appropriate, including timely assessment of mental health needs, and timely treatment of diagnosed mental health conditions. 
  4. Support with practical needs, such as appropriate time off work and financial support for those who need it most. 
  5. (If a death is being investigated by the police or a criminal charge is being brought) Police ‘Family Liaison Officer’ help, and independent support through the criminal justice system and courts; with bereaved people’s victim status recognised and respected. They should have their voices heard and be kept informed.
  6. If required, specialist help with other legal or other complex issues that may follow a sudden death, such as wills, inquests and claims for compensation, that is timely and equitable.
  7. Be counted. There should be robust government data that records numbers of people who have died unexpectedly, by cause of death, to support informed policy decision making about the scale of sudden bereavement and the resources required to care appropriately for suddenly bereaved people.
  8. Support that is informed by research and evidence that demonstrates the best ways to help people bereaved suddenly,  providing for their immediate welfare needs and to foster wellbeing long term.

The Sudden Bereavement Charter has been signed by:

Sudden is reliant on donations. We are a charity-run service. If you’d like to contribute to our crucial work, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, then please donate to Sudden. Sudden is run and hosted by Brake, the road safety charity.