It is important that next of kin be given the opportunity to view the deceased, should they so wish, irrespective of when death occurs. This should be seen as an essential part of our continuous care, both for the patient and their next of kin. Viewing on a ward/unit should only be delayed if it would entail further disturbance of the body, such as might prejudice the outcome of a post-mortem.

The most appropriate place for next of kin to view the body is on the ward/unit. Nursing staff should try to arrange this wherever possible. If the next of kin have not been present at the death, it may be necessary to advise them of the condition of the body. This should be sensitively undertaken by an appropriate member of the medical or nursing staff.

If viewing is to take place in the Mortuary Viewing Room, it should be regarded as usual procedure for this to happen during working hours, i.e. Monday to Friday 09.00 – 17.00 at Ashford and between 12.00 and 16.00 at St Peter’s.

In exceptional circumstances viewing can be arranged out of hours through the Duty Matron or CSNP (Clinical Site Nurse Practitioner/Site Co-ordinator) at Ashford or St Peter’s. Out of hours viewing at St Peter’s involves bringing in the on-call Mortuary Technician. Care should be taken that the Duty Matron/CSNP is aware of the full reasons for requesting an out of hours viewing.

If there is any possibility that the death of the patient may be referred to the Coroner, or it has already been referred, this may affect whether the body can be viewed. In this case, the person dealing with the request for a viewing (usually the Bereavement Officer, but outside normal working hours the Duty Matron/CSNP/Site Co-ordinator) should first contact the Coroner’s Officers on 01483 637300. Out of hours this call will be referred to a Police number, and it may be necessary to ask to speak to the on-call Coroner’s Officer.

Mortuary staff will maintain a stock of “Help for the Bereaved Booklets” and will give them to family/friends as required. Other appropriate literature can be obtained through the Bereavement Office.


Policy Details

Download: n/a
Compiled by: Suzanne Jane, Mortuary Manager
Ratified by: Senior Nursing and Midwifery Leadership Committee - Chair's action
Date Ratified: January 2014
Date Issued: January 2014
Review Date: January 2017
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: Suzanne Jane, Mortuary Manager