The Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust mortuary department is responsible for taking care of the deceased.
We will look after those who have passed away with dignity and respect until next of kin have organised an undertaker to make the funeral arrangements.
Viewings of a loved one in the Chapel of Rest can be arranged by telephoning Patient Services or the Mortuary Department on either of the numbers below. You may view your loved one during normal working hours on an appointment basis; please report to main reception foyer where the mortuary staff will meet you.
For further support you may also want to talk to the care team who looked after your loved one before they died.
In order to allow collection of deceased patients by undertakers the mortuary requires a completed Authority for Removal of Deceased. In addition to this the mortuary will require a copy of the green certificate for burial/ cremation for our records. For Coronial cases, where possible,the collecting undertaker must provide a copy of Cremation form 6 (formally Coroner’s cert. “E”) or the Coroner’s burial order when removing a deceased patient from the care of the mortuary.
Post-mortem examinations are carried out for two main reasons:
Coroner’s: If the cause of a death is unknown, or when a death happens unexpectedly or suddenly, it is referred to a Coroner who may then order a post-mortem examination. By law, Coroners' post-mortem examinations can take place without the consent of the family.
Hospital: At the request of the family of a deceased person in order to provide information about illness and cause of death for research or educational purposes. In these cases consent must be obtained from the deceased's family. A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) must have been issued.
Some deaths are required to be reported to the Coroner. These include:
Cases where no attending doctor knows the cause of death. This normally applies to patients dying within 24 hours of admission to hospital.
Deaths related to accident, including fractures, or overdose - whenever this may have occurred.
Neglect, including hypothermia.
If the death could be due to an industrial disease or related in any way to the deceased’s employment e.g. asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Deaths closely related to a medical procedure or operation whether invasive or not or where litigation is threatened.
To report a case to the Coroner, the Coroner's officers should be contacted. After discussion, the Coroner may then order a post mortem examination, or the treating doctor may be instructed to issue the MCCD. If there is any uncertainty as to whether a case is reportable to the Coroner, it is best to speak to a Coroner's officer to seek their advice. Post mortem results are obtained from the Coroner’s office, mortuary staff have no access to these records.
If a doctor is in a position to issue the MCCD then it is their legal obligation to do so; whether relatives are prepared to consent to post-mortem has no bearing on the matter.
The coroner's system should never be used in an attempt to obtain a hospital post-mortem against relatives' wishes.
If you or the relative of a deceased wish to have a hospital post-mortem carried out you need to obtain a signed consent form from a suitable relative. Information on qualifying relationships can be found on the Human Tissue Authority website under the Codes of Practice.
Consent for post mortem examination must be obtained by the Consultant or Specialist registrar who cared for the patient and they will be accompanied by a member of staff who has specialist training in bereavement and in obtaining consent for post mortems.
The completed consent form is then left with the patient affairs officer who will liaise with the mortuary staff to arrange.
The results of hospital post mortem examinations are obtained from the pathologist who performs the examination. Mortuary staff do not have access to post mortem results.
The mortuary is:
Staffed from 08:00 - 16:00 weekdays
Open for collection of deceased by undertakers 09:00 - 12:00 and 14:00 - 15:30
Open for doctors to obtain and complete cremation papers by telephoning the mortuary department and arranging an appointment to do this (08:00 - 15:45)