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.

To help those preparing for a pandemic situation, the HTA has produced guidance on temporary body storage arrangements and licensing requirements.
Policy on post mortem finding asymptomatic variant Creutzfeldt - Jakob Disease (vCJD)
Who can decide on what happens to tissue from the deceased
Guidance on the removal of relevant material from deceased children
Protocol to ensure the provision of forensic pathology services in the event of regulatory action
Which records should be used by licensed and unlicensed establishments to evidence traceability and ensure a robust audit trail
Further guidance for mortuaries on how to formalise agreements with funeral directors
Guidance for hospital and mortuary staff on brain and spinal cord donation
This guidance provides a comprehensive explanation of the responsibilities of toxicologists under the Human Tissue Act 2004.
About post mortem sector HTA Reportable Incidents, including information about how to log HTARIs

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