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Laboratory Medicine


York and Scarborough Mortuary Opening Hours

Mortuary Staff arrange viewings, initiate the Cremation Certificate procedure and liaise with the Consultant on call for urgent autopsies. The Mortuary is open:

Monday to Thursday: 8.00am – 4.30pm

Friday: 8.00am - 4:00pm

On weekends, Bank Holidays and at all other times, a Mortuary Technician may be contacted via the Hospital Switchboard at York.


Mortuary Key Contacts

For enquiries, advice and key contact details: Click here

Viewing of Bodies by Relatives of the Deceased

Relatives wishing to view deceased persons need every assistance, and arrangements should be made with the Mortuary Staff.

Autopsy Examination

Both hospital and Coroner’s autopsy examinations are performed during weekdays only. An Autopsy may only be arranged out of hours in exceptional circumstances (e.g. where there is requirement for a Home office post mortem). This will only occur with the specific agreement of the police and coroner.

Hospital Autopsy Examinations, i.e. Non-Coroner's Cases

It is imperative that an Autopsy Consent Form is completed and signed in all hospital request cases, even if verbal permission has been obtained. An Autopsy Request Form stating the points of clinical interest, and the likely cause of death should also be completed. It is normal to issue a death certificate with the appropriate box ticked “Information from post mortem may be available later”. If the cause of the death is obscure, the death should be reported to the Coroner. Please inform the Mortuary Technician as soon as permission for autopsy has been obtained - do not rely on the autopsy request reaching the Mortuary, for there may well be a delay. Send the consent and autopsy request forms plus the case notes and X-rays to the Mortuary promptly.

Perinatal and Foetal Examinations (York Hospital)

All foetuses of any age should be sent to the mortuary with an appropriate request form completed. It is also helpful to contact the Mortuary directly if an examination has been requested, especially if the birth has been out of normal working hours.

A completed consent form is required in all cases regardless of gestation.

Coroner's Autopsy Examinations

Coroner’s Officers Location



Contact Number


Police Station

01609 643123


(Weekdays) and during weekends

Via Control Room York Police

01904 631321

Pamphlets on which cases to refer to the Coroner are available on the wards, but if in any doubt you are advised to contact your Consultant or one of the Coroner's Officers. The Consultant Pathologist will also give advice.

The following is a guide to which deaths should be reported. Remember failure to report, or delay, may cause the bereaved relative unnecessary distress.

A death should be reported to H. M. coroner if:

  1. it cannot be certified as being due to natural causes.
  2. the deceased was not seen by a doctor within the last 14 days.
  3. there is any element of suspicious circumstances.
  4. there is any history of violence.
  5. the death may be linked to an accident (whenever it occurred).
  6. there is any question of self neglect or neglect by others.
  7. the death has occurred or the illness arisen during or shortly after detention in police or prison custody (including voluntary attendance at a police station).
  8. the deceased was detained under the Mental Health Act.
  9. the death is linked with an abortion.
  10. the death may have been contributed to by the actions of the deceased himself (e.g. self injury, history of drug addition or solvent abuse).
  11. the deceased was receiving any form of war pension or industrial disability pension unless the death can shown to be wholly unconnected.
  12. the death could be due in any way to the deceased’s employment.
  13. the death occurred within 24 hours of admission to hospital.
  14. the death occurred during an operation or before full recovery from the effects of the anaesthetic or was in any way related to the anaesthetic (in any event a death within 14 days of surgery should normally be referred).
  15. the death may be related to a medical procedure for treatment whether invasive or not.
  16. the death may be due to lack of medical care.
  17. there are any other disturbing features to the case.
  18. it may be wise to report any death where there is an allegation of medical mismanagement.

Death Certificates

Remember you should not defer completing a death certificate until after the result of a hospital autopsy examination. You should put down your opinion as to the cause of death and initial the section, 'Further information available later'. Avoid using vague terminology on the death certificate such as 'heart failure' without qualification and also such terms as 'cerebrovascular accident or incident'. The word 'accident' or 'incident' should be avoided by the use of the term 'spontaneous intra-cerebral haemorrhage', 'cerebral infarction/cerebral thrombosis', 'subarachnoid haemorrhage' etc where appropriate. A death certificate should not be issued in the case of Coroner's post mortem examinations - the Coroner will issue a disposal certificate. In all cases consideration should be given to the bereaved relatives and documentation be completed as soon after death as possible to facilitate burial or cremation. If you are going off for a day or a weekend please ensure that you inform the colleague who is covering for you.

Cremation Certificates

The Mortuary staff initiates these and when Form '4' has been completed it should be sent, with the case notes, to the Mortuary Via Bereavement services , where arrangements will be made for form '5' to be completed.

Extreme care must be exercised in completing medical certificates for cremation. These certificates are statutory and if they are not completed properly, fully and accurately cremation may have to be postponed with resultant distress to relatives. All questions must be answered and abbreviations should not be used.

Form '5', the confirmatory medical certificate, may only be signed by a registered medical practitioner who has been fully registered with the General Medical Council for not less than five years. A doctor who is on the same clinical team as the doctor who signed Form '4' should not issue this certificate. Both certificates are examined by the Medical Referee who must be satisfied in all respects before the cremation is authorised. Owing to the risk of explosion or radiation, bodies with cardiac pacemakers and/or radioactive implants in situ are not suitable for cremation. Pacemakers and implants must, therefore, be removed and this fact stated on cremation forms. Removal of a pacemaker or implant is done by the undertaker

Where the deceased died as an in-patient in a hospital, and a post mortem examination has been made by a suitably qualified doctor, and the deceased's medical attendant knows the result of the examination before giving his certificate, the cremation may take place without subsequent completion of Form '5'. Question 10 on Form '4' covers this eventuality.

Signing of Cremation Form '5'

The Home Office takes the view that the term 'registered medical practitioner of not less than five years standing' means one who has been registered with the General Medical Council for not less than five years; and in these circumstances registration outside the country would not count towards the requisite period. It is also the view of the Home Office that any periods of limited or provisional registration cannot count as part of the five years. This means that the date from which the five years is calculated is the date of registration with the General Medical Council, not the date of qualification.

The Medical Referee at York and Scarborough Crematorium has no option but to abide by the advice of the Home Office, and you should bear the above points in mind when the question of signing cremation Form '5' arises.


Enquiries about the medical aspect of cremation should be addressed to the Medical Referee (District Medical Officer), City of York Crematorium, or to the Superintendent, York City Crematorium (01904 706096).


Enquiries about the medical aspect of cremation should be addressed to the Medical Referee (District Medical Officer), Scarborough Crematorium, or to the Superintendent, Scarborough Crematorium (01723 372652).

Doctors should note that crematorium fees are taxable and should be disclosed.

Web Page 52 Last updated: 11/09/2020

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