Scotland politics

Scotland's first funeral inspector named

Natalie McKail Image copyright Scottish Government

Scotland's first Inspector of Funeral Directors has been appointed by the Scottish government.

Natalie McKail will undertake a review of the funeral profession in Scotland during her two-year term.

She will then be expected to make recommendations on how it should be regulated and whether to introduce a licensing regime.

The role was created following the so-called "baby ashes" scandal at Scottish crematoria.

It was one of the key recommendations of Dame Elish Angiolini, who led the National Cremation Investigation into crematorium practices across Scotland.

The 400-page report made a series of findings, including that babies were cremated with unrelated adults at Aberdeen Crematorium.

The practices were "unethical and abhorrent", Dame Elish concluded.

'Wealth of experience'

She added that families involved in the investigation had been failed by both crematoria and funeral care organisations "over many decades".

The creation of an inspector of funeral directors was also recommended by an earlier report - The Infant Cremation Commission, led by Lord Bonomy.

The Scottish government said Ms McKail, who has worked in local government for more than 20 years, will take up her position in July.

Image copyright Getty Images

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: "I'm pleased that Natalie McKail has agreed to take up the post for an initial period of two years and I look forward to receiving her recommendations on how best to regulate the profession, and whether that should include licensing.

"Natalie brings a wealth of experience to the role, which places her perfectly to meet the challenges it will bring.

"The approach we're taking will ensure that any regulatory scheme reflects the diverse nature of the funeral profession in Scotland and ensures that bereaved families receive the best possible care at a time when they are potentially very vulnerable."

Ms McKail was previously the lead officer on the improvement programme for the Mortonhall crematorium in Edinburgh, which was also embroiled in the baby ashes scandal .

'Shape the future'

The Scottish government said she "successfully led and delivered improvements, as well as rebuilding trust and understanding between the council and affected parents and also the wider public".

Ms McKail said: "I am delighted to accept the ministerial appointment of Inspector of Funeral Directors, and look forward to working collaboratively with funeral directors, representative bodies and a broad range of stakeholders on behalf of the bereaved across Scotland, ensuring the highest standard of service at the most difficult time for families.

"It is my intention to listen carefully to the widest range of views, and to assess the current provision of funerals in Scotland over the next 18 months, before providing recommendations to the minister on a regulatory framework for the future."

In a joint statement, the National Association of Funeral Directors and the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors said: "The NAFD and SAIF warmly welcome Natalie to the role of Inspector of Funeral Directors, and look forward to working closely with her, as we have done with government, to help shape the future of the profession in Scotland.

"We believe appointing an Inspector of Funeral Directors is in the public interest and believe Natalie's appointment will help keep standards high in the profession, as well as strengthen public confidence, and we look forward to forming a close working relationship and bringing her up to speed with all the issues affecting the funeral profession."

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