Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

Contingency Storage

  • The hire of temporary storage units should not be the sole contingency arrangement for an establishment. Establishments should put in place other formally agreed arrangements for contingency storage.
     
  • Where the hire of temporary storage facilities forms part of establishments’ contingency arrangements, they should consider how funding for such arrangements may be protected for allocation in case of need.
    • Consideration should be given well in advance and steps taken to ensure availability of funds, and of units for hire, when the time comes.
  • Establishments using temporary storage facilities as part of contingency arrangements should complete a risk assessment to ensure that risks to security and the dignity of the deceased have been fully assessed and any necessary mitigating actions taken, such as additional porter training or revised standard operating procedures.
    • Risk assessments should consider the risk of the occurrence of an HTA reportable incident by reference to each of the categories of reportable incident. More info on reporting HTARIs can be found on our website here.
  • Temporary storage facilities should have temperature monitoring systems and be located in a suitable and secure place, and alarms should be checked regularly. If relying on an in-house chiller unit, this should be regularly serviced and tested.
    • Temporary racking systems should be numbered to ensure the position of the deceased is easy to ascertain.

Transfers of bodies to other premises

  • In cases where establishments arrange for the transfer of bodies to other premises, such as another HTA licensed body store or funeral director, establishments should ensure that they keep robust records of traceability of bodies.

Transfer to funeral directors

  • Transfer of bodies to a funeral director should be not be relied upon as the sole arrangement for contingency storage of bodies.
    • Where establishments do not have alternative arrangements or regularly have to transfer bodies to funeral directors, they should develop their contingency plans further.
       
  • Where establishments may transfer bodies to a funeral director for contingency storage, they must have robust procedures in place to ensure that the funeral director’s premises and practices are suitable.
     
  • The Designated Individual should visit the funeral director’s premises to assess their suitability and a thorough risk assessment of arrangements with funeral directors should be conducted.
    • This should include consideration of procedures in place to prevent the occurrence of a serious incident, for example, whether there is a same / similar name system.
       
  • Establishments should have a process for identifying which bodies should be moved to funeral directors’ premises, for example, excluding those where the family has requested return of organs or tissue to the body before release.
     
  • Establishments should have documented agreements with any funeral directors that they may use for contingency storage.
    • Consideration should be given to whether the funeral director provides contingency storage for other mortuaries, in order to understand whether this impacts the possible number of spaces available.
  • Standard operating procedures should be developed with details of when and whom to contact if any issues arise or there is a reportable incident.
     
  • Continuous use over winter should lead to a thorough analysis of storage capacity and contingency arrangements within an area.
    • If the level of reliance on contingency arrangements persists into the following winter or becomes a long-term arrangement, capital investment may need to be considered if the risk persists, particularly in regions where the pressures seem to be greater as a whole.
       
  • Any establishment whose contingency storage arrangements have been in use for more than six months, should assess the reasons for their continued use with a view to identifying ways in which procedures or practices might be changed to help free up space.
    • Alternatively, if contingency storage has been in use frequently throughout the year, then you should assess the need for extra temporary storage for the winter period.
    • This may include exploring options with other facilities and local authorities with regard to body release procedures.
       
  • Ensure that funding for temporary units is approved in principle in advance, to ensure there are no delays if additional storage is required.