Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

Post mortem

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, mortuaries where post-mortem examinations take place are licensed and inspected by the HTA. We help mortuaries improve the standard of care they provide, so the public can have confidence that deceased people are treated with dignity and respect. Please note that the HTA does not license post mortem establishments in Scotland. Information about regulation in Scotland is provided by Health Scotland.

We also provide publicly-available advice and information so that bereaved families can make decisions about what should happen to organs and tissue samples removed during a post mortem examination for further examination, after the cause of death has been ascertained. In regulating post mortem examination, we work closely with pathologists. However, we do not regulate their professional practice. We also maintain close links with coroners, who fall outside the scope of our regulatory activity.

You can see a list of mortuaries who are happy to be contacted directly by brain banks – to perform brain and spine removals - here. This document will be regularly updated.

Position statement on consent for post-mortem examination and tissue retention under the Human Tissue Act 2004
What is expected of staff in relation to collecting spinal cord and brain tissue
Policy on the management and traceability of tissue samples retained by independent pathologists
To help those preparing for a pandemic situation, the HTA has produced guidance on temporary body storage arrangements and licensing requirements.
Who can decide on what happens to tissue from the deceased
Policy on post mortem finding asymptomatic variant Creutzfeldt - Jakob Disease (vCJD)
HTA advice for mortuaries on contingency arrangements during busy periods
Guidance on the removal of relevant material from deceased children
Which records should be used by licensed and unlicensed establishments to evidence traceability and ensure a robust audit trail
Protocol to ensure the provision of forensic pathology services in the event of regulatory action


See also...