'Care and Respect in Death' guidance is published:
Lord Warner today announced new good practice guidance for NHS mortuary
staff to ensure that they deal with the bodies of people who die in
hospital, and their friends and family, in a safe, secure and sensitive
In 2004, the Department of Health announced its intention to publish
good practice guidance for staff working in NHS mortuaries. In 2005
Lord Warner re-iterated that commitment in Modernising Pathology: Building
a Service Responsive to Patients.
Care and Respect in Death brings together existing good practice from
hospital mortuaries in one document in order to spread it widely across
Lord Warner said:
" Staff working in mortuaries in NHS hospitals have an important
and challenging role providing an efficient, safe and secure service,
while at the same time treating bereaved families with respect and
sensitivity. If things go wrong in a hospital mortuary, the impact
on bereaved families can be devastating. Providing a high quality mortuary
service which respects the dignity of deceased patients and their families
is a key part of effective support for bereaved families.
_ The Government's aim is to put
patients at the heart of the modern NHS. Providing a service that
cares for and respects the dead
is an important part of that vision. I welcome the publication of this
advice and the eight key principles of good practice, which provides
guidance on how they can be put into practice."
The guidance sets out eight key principles of good practice to develop
a mortuary service at a local level that is:
- responsive to individual needs;
- safe and secure;
- committed to improvement;
- valuing staff;
- valuing good communication; and
- fit for purpose.
The document includes examples of good practice from around the country.
One is an initiative by Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust,
who are working in cooperation with the local Muslim community and
local authority to provide a suitable facility for families to use
for preparation of their loved ones' bodies according to their religion,
such as ritual washing.
Another example is North Glasgow University Hospital NHS Trust, who
have a 'same name' procedure to warn the staff if two of the deceased
at their mortuary have similar or identical names in order to prevent
Yunus Dudhwala, Multifaith Coordinator at the College of Healthcare
" I welcome the new guidance 'Care and Respect in Death' and
very much support the eight principles the publication sets out. Patient
care does not finish when the patient dies. The quality of after death
care we offer in the NHS will directly impact on the grieving process
of families and friends.
_ Families of the patient will expect
appropriate, effective, sensitive and efficient care not only for
themselves but also for their
deceased loved one. The patient's body must still be treated in a dignified
manner that respects their cultural, religious and personal beliefs.
Mortuary staff are key members in delivering this care to patients
and families and I hope this guidance helps ensure all patients and
families are treated with respect, dignity, sensitivity and above all
as 'individuals' at a sad and difficult time."
The guidance has been agreed with a wide range of organisations and
representatives that include faith communities, bereavement organisations,
funeral directors and minority ethnic groups.