The bereavement services team offers support to the relatives and friends of people who have died in hospital.
We wish to offer our sincere sympathy to you, your family and friends if you are in a time of bereavement.
Bereavement is a time of grief and sorrow, and this is a natural and normal part of your loss. It is also, unfortunately, a period during which a number of matters must be dealt with. All of this can prove bewildering and stressful and we hope this information will help and assist you during this difficult time.
Bereavement services at York Hospital
The Trust has a team of bereavement advisers who can give you help and information and can, if you wish, arrange for you to see the doctor who was looking after your relative to help answer any questions you may have.
Bereavement advisers will arrange an appointment for you to come in and collect the certificate from them, when it is ready. They will try to arrange your appointment at a convenient time and usually on the next working day, subject to the issue of the medical certificate. If you are worried, you are welcome to telephone them on 01904 725392 or 721138.
Bereavement services at York Hospital is open between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday. You can leave a message on the answer phone out of hours and they will get back to you as soon as they are available.
The hospital has a Register Office located on site and you may be able to arrange to collect the death certificate and register the death with the Registrar at the same time. For an appointment with the Registrar please telephone 01904 725445.
The bereavement advisers will:
- provide you with a medical certificate of cause of death
- advise you on how to register the death
- return any valuables and personal belongings left at the hospital
- offer to put you in contact with counselors, chaplains or other support groups, if requested
- advise you what to do next
- advise you on the possible arrangements for viewing your relative
- you will also have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about any other matters.
The Bereavement Advisers are based at bereavement services on the hospital's main corridor between junctions 6 - 7. If you have difficulty finding the service, please ask one of the receptionists on the main desk to contact the office for you and someone will come to collect you.
The bereavement services team produces a booklet 'What to do during your bereavement' which provides some practical help and advice during the early days of your bereavement. These are available from wards or the Bereavement Services department.
What happens to the deceased?
The body of the person who has died will be taken to the hospital mortuary, until it is released to the appointed funeral director.
It may be possible to view your relative or friend before they leave the ward. However, it is possible to make arrangements for a viewing at the hospital at an alternative time. You may also wish to wait until your relative, or friend, has been moved to the funeral directors.
If you are in the hospital when your relative or friend dies, the nursing staff will return all belongings to you before you leave the hospital, or if you prefer, you can arrange another time for a family member or next of kin to collect them from bereavement services. This includes any valuables that have been taken into safekeeping.
What happens next?
Contact bereavement services on 01904 725445 during normal office hours to be advised on the availability of the Medical Cause of Death Certificate and, following its issue, the availability of an appointment to register the death.
You can contact a funeral director immediately. You do not need to wait for the medical certificate to be issued for making preliminary arrangements, providing the death has not been reported to the Coroner. The ward will advise you of this.
In most cases, the hospital will give you a medical certificate stating the cause of death. We will endeavor to do this within 48 hours, although this may take a little longer after weekends and Bank Holidays, or if discussion with the Coroner is required.
Registering the death
Once you have the medical certificate of cause of death you will need to register the death at the Registrar's Office. The death must be registered within five days at the Registrar's Office for the area in which the death occurred. You will need to make a prior appointment before you go there but please do not make an appointment until bereavement services have informed you that the certificate is ready for collection from them.
If you are unable to get to the Registrar's Office in this area, you can go to a Registrar in your home town in England or Wales but they will not register the death. The details will be passed on to the Registrar for the area in which the death occurred and the certificate will be sent to you by post a few days later. This may cause delays in arranging the funeral. Please contact your local register office for details.
If the death has been referred to the Coroner, you will not be able to register the death until he advises you to do so.
What information to bring with you to register the death
The list of those qualified to register a death is attached to the envelope given to you by the Bereavement Adviser. Please check your eligibility before going to the Registrar's Office. The person who goes to the Registrar's Office with the hospital certificate or at the direction of the Coroner's Officer must, whenever possible, be able to give the following particulars:
- The date and place (ward name and hospital name) of death and the deceased's usual address
- The full names and surname (spelt correctly) of the deceased. You will also need to provide the maiden name if the deceased was a woman who had married
- The date and place of birth (town or county, or, if from abroad, the country) of the deceased
- The occupation of the deceased and the full names and occupation of her husband if the deceased was a widowed or married woman.
- Whether the deceased was receiving a pension or any type of allowance from public funds
- The age of the surviving widow or widower if the deceased was married
- The date of admission to hospital.
NB: The deceased's birth certificate will be helpful in answering some of these questions and if possible you should take this to the registration appointment. Also, if possible, you should also deliver the deceased's medical card to the Registrar. If you cannot find this or if any of the above information is not available, you should still go to the Registrar's Office as soon as possible.
What the Registrar will give you
- A green certificate (Form 9) which you should give to your funeral director as soon as possible. There is no charge made for this
- A notification or registration of death form (BD8) for use in connection with Department of Work and Pensions benefits. This is also free of charge
- Certified copies of the entry of death - These are known as death certificates and are most often needed for insurance, premium bonds, bank accounts and private pension purposes - photocopies are usually not acceptable. The Registrar will charge a fee of £3.50 per copy. Payment is by cash only, the registrar does not accept cheques or credit/debit cards.
The duties of the Coroner
There are certain circumstances when the doctor has to refer the death to the Coroner before they are able to write the certificate. This may cause a delay in issuing the certificate and registering. The Coroner may have to arrange a Coroner's post mortem examination. You will be told that this is happening, but you do not have the right to withhold your consent to the examination in this case.
If the post mortem shows that death was due to natural causes, the Coroner will issue a notification to the Registrar, known as the Pink Form (Form 100B) which gives the cause of death so that the death can be registered. If the body is to be cremated, the Coroner will give your chosen funeral director a Certificate for Cremation.
If there is to be an inquest, an Interim Certificate of Fact of Death can be issued by the Coroner. The Coroner will give you further information if this decision is made.
Hospital post mortem examination
Sometimes, the hospital doctor who has written the medical certificate may ask for your permission to carry out a post mortem examination. This can help doctors to understand the reason why the person died and it may help in the treatment of other patients in the future. You will be under no pressure to agree to a hospital post mortem if you do not wish one to be carried out. The doctor will explain what is involved in the examination and will ask you to sign a consent form.
Organ, tissue and body donations
Nursing or medical staff can advise you on all matters relating to organ and tissue donations for the benefit of others. Further information is available on the Organ Donation area of this website.
Arranging the funeral
You can contact a funeral director of your choice as soon as it is convenient after the death, even before the death certificate has been issued. They will help you and advise you on the necessary arrangements.
Prices for funerals do vary and you may wish to see a brochure and price list or you may wish to contact other funeral directors in order to compare prices before you make a decision. The Yellow Pages directory will have contact numbers for many local funeral directors.
Sometimes, a person may have expressed a wish or desire in respect of the funeral service, whether they prefer burial or cremation, and their eventual place of rest. Their wishes or preferences may be contained in a will.
Unless you have already done so, the funeral director will notify your local minister, priest or vicar and he or she should visit you to talk about the funeral service.
Burials may be in a churchyard, local authority or private cemetery. The same applies to cremated remains that may be buried or scattered in a garden of remembrance or a favourite place. Please remember that if you wish to use your own garden for the purpose, you may some day want to move house. There are regulations regarding burial in a garden or areas other than cemeteries, please ask the Bereavement Advisers or your Funeral Director for further information regarding this.
If you are unable to meet the cost of the funeral
If you are unable to meet the cost of the funeral for the person who has died you may be able to obtain financial assistance by contacting the local office of the Department of Work and Pensions before making any arrangements.
If the person who has died has no next of kin or there are concerns regarding finances or funeral arrangements, please contact the Bereavement Advisers on 01904 725392 or 721138 before making any arrangements.
Who can help and support you?
Alongside your family and friends, there is your GP and health centre staff, social worker, schools and faith representatives, and several local groups that can also offer you support and comfort. The hospital's booklet also lists a number of agencies you can contact.
The Trust has a team of chaplains of different religions and denominations who are available to offer you support and guidance in your grief. For more information about Chaplaincy services click here.
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
PALS is an impartial, confidential and friendly service that can guide you through the different services at the Trust. PALS can help you with on-the-spot advice and support and can give you practical information at a time when you are feeling confused and anxious. PALS can be contacted on: 01904 726262 or ask a member of staff. You can find out more information on the PALS area of this website.