We have the care and dignity of your loved one at the very heart of our practice. We work closely with the bereavement and chaplaincy teams to support you and your family during what can be a very difficult time.

The Mortuaries at both Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital sites offer a secure and dignified environment for those who pass away at our hospitals. We provide body storage facilities for patients who have died within the hospitals, prior to collection by funeral directors.

Visiting

You may wish to see your loved one while they remain in our care, others might prefer to wait until they have been transferred to the care of the funeral directors, and others still may want to remember the deceased as they were – it’s a personal choice.

Our facilities at both our hospitals include private, comfortable family rooms. If you’d like to visit your loved one, please make an appointment with us.

The team pride themselves on their focus towards improving patient care and working towards developing the facilities provided within the Mortuary for patients and their relatives.

Our viewing facilities

We have two viewing rooms in the Mortuary at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and one viewing room in the Mortuary at Cheltenham General Hospital. The rooms have been refurbished within the last few years thanks to generous donations from our Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity and SANDS, as well as relatives donating on behalf of patients. All donations are much appreciated and put to good use within the Department to improve patient care and the facilities for the relatives attending the Department. The Mortuary Team are currently raising money for further improvements within the viewing facilities with the help of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity.

To arrange a visit

Opening hours & access

Our Mortuaries are open as follows:-

Gloucester Royal Hospital

9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday excluding Bank Holidays for hospital staff (closed between 12.30pm and 1.00pm)

Cheltenham General Hospital

10am and 4pm Monday to Friday excluding Bank Holidays for hospital staff

Please see Frequently Asked Questions for opening times and information regarding visiting a patient and for Funeral Directors wishing to collect a patient.

Please let us know in advance if you or your relatives plan to collect the patient with the funeral director. You will be asked to stay in the funeral director's vehicle while the patient is collected and relatives who attend in their own vehicle will be asked to park on the outside road and wait while the funeral director collects the patient.

If calling out of hours, or if the Mortuary Assistant on duty is unable to answer the phone, please leave a message with your reason for calling and your contact details and we will return your call.

The Trust no longer provides a post-mortem service so any patients requiring this service will be transferred to the Coroner’s facility in Barnwood, Gloucester. The Department is run by a team of Mortuary Assistants. These staff are not trained to remove any implanted devices (such as Pacemakers) or lines and tubing (such as cannulas and endotracheal tubes). Please note – currently all devices, lines and tubing will be left in place for the funeral directors to remove after collecting the patient.

There is an on-call service at weekends and public bank holidays to arrange viewings or for advice between 8am to 12noon. Our on-call mortuary assistant can be contacted via Switchboard (0300 422 2222) during these hours.

During normal working hours, relatives attending a viewing at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital Mortuary will be given directions to the Mortuary. Relatives attending a viewing at Cheltenham General Mortuary will be given directions to go to our Pathology Reception (opposite the Emergency Department) and they will contact the Mortuary staff to announce your arrival.

Directions to the Mortuary

The Mortuary is situated within the Pathology buildings at both sites. To locate the visitors’ entrance to the Mortuary, please follow the ‘white rose’ signs from the Bereavement Departments.

Patient property and paperwork

For all queries relating to the patient’s property, collection of the Death certificate, request for Cremation paperwork and arrangements for funerals please refer to the Trust Bereavement Department whose contact information can be found here. For information and contacts for the Gloucestershire Coroners Service please refer to their website.

More information

For all queries relating to the patient’s property, collection of the death certificate, request for cremation paperwork and arrangements for funerals, please refer to our Bereavement Services or the Gloucestershire Coroners Service

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for relatives

Can a deceased adult be released to relatives direct from the ward?

No. All adult patients have to be registered in the Mortuary prior to release unless exceptional circumstances occur, where there is coroner and police involvement, so that the patient can be transferred to the Coroner’s Mortuary.

Can a patient be dressed in their own clothes in the Mortuary?

No this is not possible, however the patient can be dressed on the ward before transferring to the Mortuary. Clothing worn by the patient may become soiled and it may not be suitable to return items or to be used for viewing purposes. The patient will be dressed in a hospital shroud until collection by the Funeral Directors where the patient can be dressed and viewed if requested

When can I visit (viewing) a patient in the Mortuary?

Please phone the Mortuary to arrange an appointment to visit the patient. We may have other appointments booked, but we will try our best to arrange a convenient time.

The patient has a pacemaker or an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD), do you need to be informed?

All cardiac implants (including pacemakers and ICDs) are noted by the Mortuary Department. This allows us to arrange for the deactivation of identified ICDs as required by the Cardiac Team to ensure safety of staff and relatives. The presence of a cardiac device is also noted by the Bereavement Team so that they can inform the Funeral Directors who will be required to remove the device prior to cremation. If you are aware of the patient having a device such as this, please inform the Bereavement Department who will inform our team.

The patient has a radioactive implant – do you need to be informed?

Yes, as soon as possible please. After being informed, we will need to contact the Trust Radiation Protection Adviser for advice on any precautions we need to take in order to care for the patient. There are also implications to what arrangements can be made for the funeral and whether a delay may be required beforehand or if the implant will need to be removed.

Can relatives accompany the funeral director when collecting the patient?

Relatives are not permitted to accompany Funeral Directors inside the Mortuary under any circumstances; attempting to do so may lead to a delay in releasing the patient. Relatives can however accompany the Funeral Director when attending but will be requested to stay in the Funeral Directors vehicle at all times. Relatives who attend in their own vehicle will be asked to park on the outside road and wait while the Funeral Director attends the Mortuary to collect the patient.

Why is no-one answering the phone when we call out of hours?

Outside the opening hours of 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday (not including bank holidays) at Gloucester Royal and 10am and 4pm (not including bank holidays) at Cheltenham General, there is no-one present in the Department to answer your call. The out of hours service provided is restricted to Sundays and bank holidays only, between the hours of 8am and 11am. The Mortuary Assistant covers both hospital sites during this time and can be contacted by calling switch board. Please leave a message on the answer phone and the Mortuary staff will get back to you as soon as possible.

Information for funeral directors

Opening hours & access

Funeral director directions GRH

Our Mortuary Departments are open for collections by Funeral Directors (by appointment) as follows:-

Cheltenham General Hospital

11.00am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays)

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

9.45am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays)

Mortuary operates an appointment system between these hours; no admittance is allowed outside of these times unless prior arrangements have been made with the Mortuary Assistant on duty. The Mortuary is a secure area and should be treated as such by any funeral director that is given access.

Funeral Directors who attend are expected to follow the Code of Practice for Funeral Directors and other visitors to the Mortuary as specified by the Trust. Please refer to this before attending the Mortuary Department. Cremation forms, Doctors cheques and release notes are collected from the Mortuary.

The Bereavement Office will contact the Funeral Director when the paperwork and patient is ready for collection.

Funeral director directions CGH

Directions to the Mortuary

At both sites, the Mortuary is situated within the Pathology block. The Funeral Director’s entrance for the Mortuary at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital is located between the Women’s Centre and the Pathology Reception entrance, behind a wooden fence.

The Funeral Director’s entrance for the Mortuary at Cheltenham General Hospital is situated at the back of the hospital next to the LINC. Access is through the site from Keynsham Road.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Funeral Directors

We have a release note signed by the relatives giving us permission to collect the patient – will you accept this?

Only a Trust-provided 'Consent for Release' form will be accepted. This is completed by the Bereavement Department when seeing the relatives or on their behalf after if requested to do so over the phone. For both burials and cremations the Consent for Release form will be sent to the Mortuary and will be ready when you phone to make an appointment to collect.

Do you need us to bring the Green Form or a copy in order to collect the patient?

No, we only require the Trust provided Consent for Release form which will already be in the Mortuary. Please bring 3 points of identification for the patient you are collection (Full name, Date of Birth and address).

Why are lines, drains and endotracheal tubes still in place when we collect the patient?

Mortuary staff are not permitted to remove lines, drains and tubing. Any lines, drains and tubes found by the Mortuary Assistant dealing with the patient will be left in situ until collection by the Funeral Director who is expected to remove them. We will endeavour to inform you of these, but care should be taken to avoid sharps injuries. If the patient has been referred to the Coroner for post mortem, then everything will be left in place by the ward staff preparing the patient for transfer to the Mortuary. Otherwise, if the cause of death is known and there is no Coroner involvement, it is acceptable for the ward staff to remove them as long as the areas are covered with waterproof dressings to avoid leakage.

The patient has a cardiac implant – will you remove it in the Mortuary?

Our Mortuary staff are not permitted to remove cardiac implants. Pacemakers will be checked for type and left in-situ to be removed by the funeral director after collection. If an ICD is identified, deactivation usually takes place on the ward by the Cardiac Team to ensure it is safe to be removed by the funeral director. A copy of the records noting the deactivation of the ICD will be provided for you on collection to ensure you are aware.

A community patient has an ICD – how can we arrange for this to be deactivated?

You will need to email the Cardiac Technicians who deal with ICD deactivations at: ghn-tr.cardiac.investigations@nhs.net explaining the request for deactivation of a community ICD. For urgent requests, or if you are not able to get a response from the email within a sufficient time frame, please call the Cardiac Investigations Department on 0300 422 8281. You will need to provide the patient's details so that the Cardiac Technicians can identify what sort of ICD is present. The Cardiac Technicians will arrange an appointment (between the hours of 10am and 4pm) with yourselves where you are required to transfer the patient to the designated Trust Mortuary where the Cardiac Technician will meet you and perform the deactivation. Please inform the Mortuary Department of your expected arrival time for the appointment so that we can make sure that the Cardiac Technicians attend at the required time as you will be expected to stay during the deactivation. A copy of the records noting the deactivation of the ICD will be provided.

We have removed a pacemaker and need to dispose of it safely – can the Mortuary assist?

In order to fully comply with Waste Legislation and Trust Policy, there is now a new process for the disposal of pacemakers / ICDs brought into the Mortuary Departments by funeral directors, and a fee of £15 per unit will be charged to cover disposal and administration costs. If you have a device for disposal, you must first obtain a decontamination form from the Mortuary and ensure that the device is cleaned appropriately. Funeral directors are then required to go to the General Office at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital to pay the relevant fees. The General Office staff will provide the funeral director with a receipt which will need to be handed to the Mortuary staff along with the decontaminated pacemakers / ICDs and associated forms in order for the Mortuary staff to accept them.

The relatives have asked to accompany us when we collect the patient. Are they allowed?

If relatives request to attend the Mortuary with the funeral director when collecting the patient, the Mortuary staff must be made aware of the request with advance notice prior to the Funeral Directors arrival at the Mortuary. The relatives will be asked to stay in the funeral director's vehicle while the patient is collected. Relatives who attend in their own vehicle will be asked to park on the outside road and wait while the funeral director attends the Mortuary to collect the patient.

Can you provide us with a coffin size for the patient?

Please call the Mortuary and a Mortuary Assistant can take measurements on request. These dimensions are given in good faith as an estimate of the body size only. Where a coffin is being ordered to size, funeral directors should either take the measurements themselves or allow a safe margin for error. Acceptance of this estimate as a statement of fact will be taken as an acknowledgement that they may not be wholly accurate.

BEST CARE FOR EVERYONE