Many hospitals employ bereavement staff who can help you understand the next steps and coordinate any necessary documentation. The preparation of documents can take time and can only be completed by medical staff who were directly involved in the person’s care before they died.

If the person who has died is registered for organ or tissue donation and are eligible, the hospital will talk to you about this, since organs and tissues for transplantation have to be removed soon after death.

In some cases the hospital staff will refer the death to a coroner, which means they will not be able to issue a medical certificate and the coroner’s office will let you know when you can register the death.

The belongings of the deceased will be given to you, but you may be asked to sign formal documents to get their belongings released.

You will be asked to contact a funeral director who will collect the deceased from the hospital. Again, you may need to sign a form to authorise this. The body will then be taken to the funeral home.

If you are concerned about the care the deceased received in hospital or have any complaints, there are a number of options open to you, including:

  • Using the NHS complaints procedure (also applicable to private hospital care if the care was paid for by the NHS)
  • Take legal action, for example, for clinical negligence or discrimination
  • Report concerns to the regulatory body, the General Medical Council
  • Report concerns to other bodies such as the Care Quality Commission, the CCG, local Healthwatch or the NHS Choices website
See also