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.

The HTA has produced guidance for professionals working in NHS hospitals, independent hospitals and abortion clinics
Further guidance for mortuaries on how to formalise agreements with funeral directors
Who can decide on what happens to tissue from the deceased
This guidance provides a comprehensive explanation of the responsibilities of toxicologists under the Human Tissue Act 2004.
This page contains all the information hospitals and trusts need when considering adopting the Sands post mortem consent form. This form was developed in conjunction with the HTA, by the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity (Sands).
Guidance for hospital and mortuary staff on brain and spinal cord donation
About post mortem sector HTA Reportable Incidents, including information about how to log HTARIs
HTA position statement on storage of human material for teaching by schools and colleges
Policy on the sale of bodies, body parts and tissue
What is expected of staff in relation to collecting spinal cord and brain tissue


See also...