The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 promised an overhaul of the coroners' service, introducing much needed efficiencies to benefit people bereaved by suicide and other sudden deaths. Central to these reforms was the introduction of a Chief Coroner to coordinate the system and exercise wider public health responsibilities. The coalition government's proposal to abolish the Chief Coroner's office on grounds of cost, ignoring the potential efficiency gains, has delayed implementation of coronial reforms significantly. With this proposal now abandoned, ministers are expected to appoint an independent Chief Coroner in early 2012. This article describes the intended benefits of the reforms for bereaved relatives, coroners' staff, public sector budgets, and the public health, and explores the reasons behind the delays.