Emergency mortuary facilities
The HTA can issue a licence for emergency mortuary facilities that:
- undertake post-mortem examinations;
- store bodies and samples for scheduled purposes; and, or
- remove samples of relevant material from the deceased for scheduled purposes.
Emergency planning teams should refer to our guidance on licensing emergency mortuary facilities.
We will not be charging licensing fees for temporary emergency mortuary facilities that are required as part of the national response to COVID-19.
Please contact the HTA for advice if you are uncertain about whether your emergency mortuary arrangements require premises to be licensed.
Removal of samples from the deceased to test for COVID-19
Removal of relevant material from the deceased for a scheduled purpose must take place on HTA-licensed premises and with appropriate consent or authority.
Relevant material is defined by the Human Tissue Act 2004 (HT Act). The fundamental concept of relevant material is that if a sample contains cells that come from a human body, then the sample should be classified as relevant material.
Examples of relevant material include swabs that contain human cells and blood samples. There is more information on this in the HTA’s List of materials considered to be ‘relevant material’ under the Human Tissue Act 2004.
Please contact us for advice if you are uncertain about the licensing and consent requirements for removing samples from the deceased to test for coronavirus (COVID-19).
HTA Reportable incidents (HTARIs)
Establishments in the Post Mortem sector are required to notify the HTA of any reportable incidents, including near misses, within five working days of the incident occurring or being discovered.
We advise that you consider who is best placed to report an incident and make sure there is sufficient cover to report incidents in the event of staff absences. Please ensure that these staff are registered to use the HTA portal to report HTARIs.
Please see our guidance on reporting HTARIs.
The following may be useful to professionals working in the Post Mortem sector.
- PHE guidance on managing the deceased in suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases
- Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology - COVID-19 resources hub
- Royal College of Pathologists - COVID-19 resources hub
- Joint guidance from Royal College of Pathologists, Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology and Public Health England – Guidance for care of deceased during Covid-19 pandemic (19 March 2020)
- Chief Coroner’s Guidance on COVID-19 (26 March 2020)
- Health and Safety Executive – Managing infection risks when handling the deceased (2018)