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Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 37396, tabled on 21 July 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether it is lawful for mortuary staff to show bodies to external visitors without the (a) knowledge or (b) consent of their family.

Answered on

6 September 2021

The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) is responsible for licensing mortuaries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which undertake post-mortem examinations. The Human Tissue Act 2004 and the HTA's Codes of Practice require that consent must be in place to store and use bodies of the deceased.

Access to a mortuary by external visitors is covered by the HTA’s licensing standards. These require establishments to have in place documented policies for viewing of bodies by family members and others, such as the police. Establishments are required to have controlled access to body storage areas; arrangements to protect against unauthorised access; and to ensure oversight of visitors and contractors. Most post-mortem examinations are conducted under the authority of a coroner. The access to and use of bodies under the authority of HM Coroner by the police, are at the coroner’s discretion.

Named day
Named day questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.