Natalie McKail appointed IFSO chair

Natalie McKail, the former Inspector of Funeral Directors in Scotland, has been appointed to succeed the Rt Hon. David Heath CBE as chair of the Independent Funeral Standards Organisation.

Natalie’s appointment reflects a decision taken by the NAFD Governing Board, as sole IFSO member, to require prudent adjustments to IFSO’s operational structure. the announcement of licensing of funeral directors in Scotland, the inclusion of the funeral sector in the Fuller Inquiry into care of deceased people, and the continuing absence of clear direction from the Ministry of Justice on their preferred regulatory model has prompted these actions. So growth plans will be paused until policy direction is clearer.

Since it was launched last year, IFSO has built a strong service and brand – designed to meet its objective of delivering independent and proportionate voluntary regulation for the UK funeral sector that boosts consumer trust in funeral home standards of care.

Natalie will be supported by an independent board, who will provide oversight of the work of IFSO’s team of Quality, Risk and Compliance Managers, led by Nigel Cooper and ensure seamless continuity of IFSO’s independent standards monitoring service to the 4,100 UK funeral homes in NAFD membership.

Independent Chair of the NAFD Governing Board, Jonathan Rees, said: “We launched IFSO to become a regulator for the entire funeral sector.

“However, these recent policy developments have combined to change fundamentally IFSO’s operating environment and short-term growth potential and so the NAFD Governing Board took the decision to ensure that IFSO’s pace of growth and operating costs could adapt in response, while continuing to provide an independent quality assurance model.

“In Natalie, we benefit from her extensive regulatory experience of the funeral sector and understanding of both the Funeral Director Code and the Statutory Code in Scotland – and I am delighted that she has agreed to come on board. She was also the architect of what is now the IFSO inspection regime, having undertaken an independent review of how NAFD members were inspected in 2019.

“On behalf of the Governing Board, I would like to thank David Heath, Director of Regulation John Withington and the retiring IFSO Board members for their commitment and hard work in establishing IFSO as a credible independent standards monitoring regulator for the funeral sector, particularly in light of this rapidly evolving policy environment. They have established a strong foundation which Natalie, Nigel and the team will build upon.”