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Walsall Council Mortuary & Pathology Service - Consultation 17.06.2021

Walsall Council has a legal obligation to provide Mortuary & Pathology Services (MPS) as part of providing a Coroner’s Service. The Council do not have to provide the MPS within Walsall, instead the MPS can be provided anywhere within the Black Country Coroners jurisdiction, i.e. anywhere in Walsall, Dudley, Sandwell and/or Wolverhampton.

The MPS is only used for those deceased whose deaths have been referred to the Coroner:

· sudden deaths

· deaths of unknown cause

· unnatural or violent deaths, and/or

· deaths in custody

Although an average of 2,000 deaths occur each year, only approximately 300 deaths (15%) are referred to the Coroner each year. The decision as to whether or not an examination is required, and what type of examination, rests solely with the Coroner.

The deceased’s family can only view the deceased with the Coroner’s permission, usually after the examination has been completed. An exception may be made when the identity of the deceased is unknown and someone may be able to identify them. This is rare.

The MPS provides the following essential facilities and services:

· Storage of the deceased

· Control of access to the deceased, including release of the deceased following the post-mortem investigation

· Mortuary suite to allow post-mortem investigations to take place

· Pathology services to allow for pathological investigations to take place

· Mortuary technicians to care for, and prepare the deceased for investigation and to aid the Pathologists

· Administrative support for the Pathologists (the doctors who carry out the post

mortem investigations)

· Access to the mortuary facility (to receive and/or release the deceased) twenty-four (24) hours per day, seven (7) days per week and three hundred and sixty five (365) days per year

Walsall Council is aware that some of its residents have religious and/or cultural requirements to view and/or wash the deceased. To accommodate this our specification includes the need for the mortuary to:

· Provide waiting and toilet facilities (accessible by the bereaved)

· Facilitate viewing (so that the deceased can be identified and/or so that relatives can spend time with the deceased)

· Facilitate washing (so that relatives can wash the deceased if they wish to)

The Coroner is also aware of the various religious and/or cultural requirements some residents have whereby the deceased must be buried, or cremated, as soon as possible after death. The Coroner takes this into account when they assess whether or not an examination is required, and the type of examination required. Wherever possible the Coroner will give permission for the deceased to be released on the same day as they are received at the mortuary so that these requirements can be met.

How would it affect you if the MPS was moved from Walsall Manor Hospital to Sandwell General Hospital?

Please send your feedback to BereavementServices@walsall.gov.uk by 4pm on Friday 25 June 2021.

If you need this in an alternate language or format please contact BereavementServices@walsall.gov.uk and we will arrange for a translation.