Opening hours

Monday to Friday 7.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 4.15pm
Saturday 8.30am – 12.00 noon

Out of hours service

In accordance with existing Trust policy, uncomplicated hospital deaths and BID (Brought In Dead) are dealt with by the hospital’s portering services.

On-call service – This service is available for out of the ordinary cases and in the majority of cases initiated by the police e.g., homicides, multiple fatal accidents etc.

The out of hours on-call service is provided seven days a week, including bank holidays.

The on-call Anatomical Pathology Technician (APT) may only be called in by the following designated officers of the Trust and Local Authority:

  • Senior Police Officer
  • HM Coroner
  • HM Coroner’s Officer
  • On-call consulant patholgists
  • On-site managers of the Trust

Last offices/infection control

Refer to policies – IC-Y6 Infection Control / G1 Patients Who Die in Hospital

The following checks and documentation must be completed:

  • The patient is wearing an identification wristband
  • A foot/ankle label is attached
  • The mortuary notification passport is placed name side outwards inside the self-seal plastic bag and attached to the outside of the SHROUD.
  • If the patient is infectious a “Risk of Infection” sticker is placed outside of the cadaver/body bag
  • Notify, both the head porter and the mortuary staff, when a “risk of infection” body is to be moved to the mortuary (HSAC Safety in Health Service Laboratories 1991).
  • If out of hours, leave a message on the mortuary department’s answer phone extension 6238.
  • Notification of death book is completed
  • The checklist following death of a patient should be completed and filed in Patients medical records.

Body bags (cadaver bags) and bodyliners

There are two types cadaver/body bag:

  • Zip fastening vinyl bag
  • Polythene Sheet “bodyliner”

Polythene liners should be used for the following:

  • Weeping wounds or wound drainage sites
  • Cases of gangrenous limbs
  • Large/foul/leaking ulcers or pressure sores
  • Cases where leakage of body fluid is a problem (e.g. IV Sites, CVP Sites).

Body bags should be used in the following cases:

  • Where risk of infection is confirmed
  • Where risk of infection is suspected (test results are pending)
  • Where there is little or no medical history but there is cause to believe the deceased may present a risk of infection.
    (Refer to reference table in appendix 1 IC-Y6 for further guidance)

The following can be found in the blood bank in West Wing:

  • Infant cadaver bag
  • Child cadaver bag
  • Adult body bags
  • Polythene liners

During normal working hours 9am to 5pm, the pathology porter checks these items on a daily basis and replaces as necessary.

If replacement stock is required during out of hours or bank holidays, contact the portering department to obtain replacement body bags/liners, from the mortuary fridge room/body store.

Patients who arrive at the hospital already dead (BID)

These patients are certified dead in the ambulance and are not brought into the hospital but go straight to the mortuary where last offices are performed by mortuary technicians.

Patients who die in the Accident and Emergency Department

Patients who die before sufficient medical history is obtained should be treated as a potentially infectious patient. Following the routine procedure for last offices the patient is placed in a cadaver bag. This also applies to any deceased patients with extreme disfiguring injury in which it is anticipated that the body fluids may seep e.g. Road Traffic Accidents. Viewing of the body by the relatives in these circumstances should only be allowed once infection hazard is excluded.

Infection Control advice for portering staff

All staff must follow standard precautions for all patients (refer to policy IC-Y1) Plastic aprons and gloves worn when transferring any deceased patient from the bed to the mortuary trolley should be discarded and hands washed thoroughly before leaving the Ward. In the case of an infected body the portering manager will have informed the Porters in advance.

On arrival to the mortuary department, the portering staff should first put on plastic apron and gloves, before placing the body in on an appropriate fridge tray.

Before removing apron and gloves the transfer trolley should be checked for any contamination/spillages. The instructions and equipment for cleaning are displayed in the designated area in the Mortuary department.

Dispose of gloves, aprons and paper towels in the bin provided in the mortuary department and wash hands thoroughly immediately before leaving the area.

Viewing of diseased

Where relatives wish to view a body, advice must be given as to the procedure for mortuary viewing times. Viewing is strictly by appointment between 10am – 3.30pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 11.30am Saturday.

If the case is a Coroners Case, then permission must be sought from the Coroner, viewing, in the short term, may not be possible.

Refer to Appendix 6. Policy G1.Patients Who Die in Hospital – Dealing with Deaths for information regarding Coroners Cases.

If the situation is thought to be most exceptional, then advice should be sought from the Senior Nurse on duty and On-Site Manager who will decide whether or not the Mortuary Technician (APT) should be called out to facilitate a viewing.


In the event of an expected death, a nurse may have verified death. The doctor is required to view the body in the mortuary, before completing the death certificate.

If relatives require a cremation the doctor will be required to complete a cremation form. It is essential the doctor physically examine the body in order to check for the presence of implanted pacemakers, defibrillators or drug pumps. If such a device is in place the doctor must request that a mortuary technician removes it. A body cremated with any lithium powered device will result in an explosion!

When to contact the Coroner’s officer

Telephone: 0845 3527483
Available 8am – 4pm Monday – Friday

Contact the Coroner’s office if:

  • If death has been sudden or unexpected or you are unsure of the cause of death
  • The deceased was not seen by a doctor within the 14 days prior to death
  • There is any suspicion of a criminal cause
  • There is evidence that an accident or injuries (of any date) contributed to death
  • There is an indication of self-neglect or neglect by others
  • The death occurred or the illness arose during or shortly after detention in police or prison custody (including voluntary attendance at a police station)
  • The deceased was detained under the Mental Health Act
  • Death is linked to an illegal abortion
  • Death may have been due to drug or solvent abuse (including acute or chronic alcoholism). self-injury or overdoseThe deceased was receiving any form of war-pension or industrial disability pension, unless the death can be shown to be wholly unconnected
  • Death could be due to industrial disease or related to the deceased’s occupation (e.g. pneumoconiosis)
  • Death was during an operation or before full recovery from the effects of the anaesthetic or in any way connected with the anaesthetic (discuss with the
  • Coroner’s Officer any deaths within 24 hours of an anaesthetic)
  • Death may be due to therapeutic mishap or a lack of medical care
  • Stillbirths where there is a possibility of the child having been born alive, and infant deaths if the cause is obscure
  • Any form of poisoning, including food-poisoning
  • It is wise to discuss any death occurring within 24 hours of admission (unless a terminal disease is known cause), deaths where an allegation of medical mismanagement is likely, and any unusual or disturbing death.

Requesting a hospital (consented) post-mortem

If you wish to request a hospital post mortem in order to elicit more information regarding the patient’s condition you will require consent from the next of kin. Refer to Consent Policy. This is best arranged via the General Office extension 6837 / 6207

You will be required to complete a clinical summary/hospital post mortem audit form. Do not issue a death certificate if you need to inform the Coroner, if in any doubt the Coroner’s Officer will be able to advise you. (Telephone: 01922 439018).

Observing a post-mortem (autopsy)

Medical, Nursing and Medico-Technical staff who wish to observe a post mortem for educational purposes should telephone extension: 6238. (Direct line: 01922 656238).