The HTA has produced a model consent form for professionals seeking consent for an adult or child's post mortem. There is also guidance for the families of the deceased. We have also produced a model communication pathway (PDF), which supports good communication between pathologists and coroners and helps ensure that the wishes of families with regard to the disposal of tissue samples are met.
Adult post-mortem examination consent form
Our model consent form provides a suggested format for NHS Trusts obtaining consent for post-mortem (PM) examination of adults, in line with the requirements of the Human Tissue Act 2004. The form may be adapted, providing it complies with the Act and follows the HTA’s Codes of practice on Consent, Post-mortem examination and Disposal of human tissue. It could be used for older paediatric cases, but is not recommended for stillbirths, neonatal deaths, fetal tissue or non-fetal products of conception.
Staff seeking consent for PM examination must ensure that they have appropriate consent, in line with the Human Tissue Act 2004. Staff must ensure that consent is given by the person concerned whilst alive, their nominated representative or (in the absence of either of these) someone in a qualifying relationship with the deceased immediately before they died.
The consent form is important as a record of consent given. The completion of the form is just one part of the consent process. Full explanation of the PM examination procedure along with discussion and time for reflection by those consenting, are equally important. Individuals and relatives should be able to discuss this process fully and ask any questions. Staff seeking consent for PM examination must be trained in how to obtain valid consent.
Consent is only valid if proper communication has taken place. Consideration should be given to the needs of individuals and families whose first language is not English.
The consent form covers consent for the PM examination itself as well as for the retention and use of organs and tissue following the PM examination.
Perinatal post mortem consent forms
The Sands post mortem consent package has been developed in consultation with the HTA, to provide information and guidance about post mortems for health professionals and bereaved parents whose baby has died before, during or shortly after birth.
The package has been developed in close consultation with health professionals and bereaved parents across the UK, to make it easier for health professionals and parents to discuss a post mortem, and to ensure that parents can make an informed choice and give proper consent.
Model agreement between mortuaries and funeral directors for the removal of bodies
The HTA's Histopathology Working Group highlighted the need for guidance to licensed mortuaries on how to formalise agreements with funeral directors. The HTA selected an agreement between Bristol City Council and a contractor as an example of best practice in drafting such an agreement. The commercially sensitive details have been redacted, but the structure and content of the document remains clear: