Patient Information

Practical steps when someone dies in hospital


This information is for families, friends and carers of people who have died in Kingston Hospital.

It is a practical guide explaining the process for registering a death.

Basic steps, including 3 phone calls to next of kin

What to do when someone dies:

1. Telephone the hospital Bereavement Office to tell them who the next of kin is and who will arrange the funeral.

2. Wait for the phone call from the Medical Examiner’s Office to discuss the cause of death.

3. Wait for the phone call from the Bereavement Office to tell you that the ‘Medical Certificate of Cause of Death’ has been emailed to Kingston Register Office.

4. Wait for the phone call from the Register Office to organise appointment to register death.

5. Attend appointment at Register Office to register death.

6. Receive Death Certificate and Certificate for Burial so funeral can go ahead.

Summary of process after someone dies

Flow diagram of text covered in rest of page

Contact Bereavement Office

As soon as you feel able to after the person has died, contact the Bereavement Office in the hospital.

PALS and Bereavement Officers will:

  • help you to understand what happens next
  • answer any questions you may have
  • check to see if the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) is ready
  • contact you as soon as the MCCD has been sent to the Kingston Register Office
  • if you give them the name of your chosen funeral director, they can complete a release form and pass it to the mortuary team. This allows the funeral director to collect the next of kin
  • ask if you have any concerns about how the person was cared for in hospital. The PALS and Bereavement Officer will look into your concerns and offer support and advice.
People you may be in contact with
The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) offers confidential advice, support and information to patients and families.

Bereavement Officers are PALS staff who will advise on the practical steps that need to be taken after someone dies, and discuss what arrangements are needed.

Medical Examiners are independent senior hospital doctors who review medical records to consider cause of death.

Coroners are independent court and government officers who investigate deaths.

Registrars at the Register Office collect and record details of all births, deaths and marriages.

If the office is closed, you can leave a phone message with your name and contact details on their answer machine. A PALS and Bereavement Officer will contact you by the next working day.

Cause of death

When someone dies in hospital, a senior doctor called a Medical Examiner reviews the person’s medical records and speaks to the medical team involved in their care.

The Medical Examiner’s role is to give advice about the cause of death. If they believe there may be issues about care or uncertainty about the cause of death, they will begin an investigation. This helps us to improve our care and we hope it will also reassure you.

The Medical Examiner’s Office needs to be satisfied about the cause of death before a doctor can issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD).

If cause of death is agreed

When the cause of death is agreed by the Medical Examiner’s Office, the doctor who treated the person during their last illness issues the MCCD. This is sent directly to the Kingston Register Office.

If cause of death is not agreed

If the cause of death is not agreed, or the death was sudden or unexplained, the Medical Examiner will refer a death to the Coroner.

The Coroner will check the person’s medical documentation. If they agree with the doctor about cause of death, no further investigation is needed. The Coroner will issue a certificate to the Register Office confirming this. The MCCD can then be issued.

If the Coroner thinks the cause of death is not clear, a post-mortem examination (sometimes called an autopsy) is carried out. This is a medical examination to decide the exact cause of death. This is done by a specialist doctor (called a pathologist). It is usually carried out at the hospital.

Certificates and forms

Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) records the cause of death. It is certified by the attending doctor and confirmed by an independent medical examiner. It is needed to register the death.

Pink form (form 100B) will be sent by the Coroner to the Register Office if the body is released after a post-mortem with no inquest. It states the cause of death.

Death Certificate is a certified copy of the entry in the register of deaths. It is issued by the Register Office.

Interim Death Certificate can be issued by the Coroner after a post-mortem. This means a funeral can take place before an inquest.

Certificate for Burial (Green form) is issued by the Register Office. It is usually passed on to the funeral director. A burial or cremation cannot go ahead without this form.

If the cause of death is still uncertain after the post-mortem, the Coroner may hold an inquest. This is a meeting to find out how, when and where someone died. The Coroner’s Office will guide you through this process.

Usually, the Coroner will issue an interim death certificate after a post-mortem so the funeral can take place before the inquest. However, you will not be able to register the death or collect copies of the death certificate until after the inquest.

Once the Coroner has confirmed the cause of death either from reviewing the medical documentation, after a post-mortem or after an inquest, they will pass this on to the Kingston Register Office. The Register Office will then contact you to make an appointment to register the death.

Registering the death

Who should register the death at a register office?

The person making funeral arrangements, the next of kin, or someone present at the death must go to a register office in person and officially register the death.

You can do this once the register office has the MCCD or equivalent approval from the Coroner.

Kingston Register Office will contact you to make an appointment.

Which register office can I go to?

The MCCD or Coroner’s documents will always be sent to the Kingston Register Office. Therefore, it is preferable that you register the death there. However, in exceptional circumstances, they can post the documents to your preferred register office, but this will cause a short delay.

The address of the Kingston Register Office is in the Contacts section below.

What do I need to take with me to register the death?

The register office will let you know exactly what to bring.

It is likely that you will need proof of your own identity plus the person’s full name and previous names, date and place of birth, last address, occupation, and the name of their spouse or civil partner.

What will happen at the register office?

Once the registrar has all the information they need, they will give you the following documents.

  • The certificate of burial or cremation (the Green Form).
    The register office will send this electronically to your chosen funeral director so they can make the funeral arrangements.
  • Copies of the death certificate
    You will need these to notify the person’s bank, utility company and others who need to know about the death. These are usually returned, but most people find it useful to have multiple copies to help with this administration. Copies currently cost £11 each.
  • ‘Tell us once’ unique reference number. This makes it easy to notify multiple government organisations of a death.

Can I visit the mortuary to view the person who has died?

If you would like to arrange to view the person who has died whilst they are in the hospital mortuary, call the mortuary and make an appointment. Their contact details are in the Contacts section below.

Your funeral director can also arrange for you to view the person in their premises.

If the person’s death has been referred to the Coroner, we need permission for a viewing from the Coroner’s office by email or phone. If the Coroner agrees, they might advise that you do this behind a glass screen.

You can contact the Coroner yourself using the details in Contacts below.

What happens to the personal belongings of the person who has died

Ward staff will pack up the person’s personal belongings. You may collect these at any time.

If you have any queries or concerns about the person’s property, contact the Ward Manager.

Further support

Grief is a natural response. If you would like to talk to someone, there are a number of free services available. Follow this link or scan the QR code for details.

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Support following a death
Practical steps when someone dies in hospital - Kingston Hospital Download PDF


The Bereavement Office at Kingston Hospital (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) 020 8934 3355
PALS Office (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, a short walk from the Main Entrance) 020 8934 3993
The Medical Examiner Office (Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm) 020 8934 3478 or 3479
Kingston Hospital Mortuary (Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm, last viewings at 3pm) 020 8934 2643 or 020 8934 2644
Register Office, Kingston Bereavement Hub, Main Gate Entrance, Bonner Hill Road, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 3EZ (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm, last admissions at 3:30pm) 020 8547 6196
West London Coroner’s Office 020 8753 5135 or 020 8753 4743
Kingston Hospital Charity 020 8973 5040

Translate Please speak to a member of staff before or during your visit to the hospital if you require translation.
Accessibility Please contact the Patient Experience Team on 020 8934 3850 if you need this information in a different format.
For information accessibility please visit Kingston Hospital AccessAble www.accessable.co.uk/kingston-hospital-nhs-foundation-trust
Support services

Visit the hospital website, ask a member of staff, or ring us for details.


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  • ‘Find Us’ page for maps, transport, registering a blue badge, disabled access
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  • Learning Disability Liaison Team 020 8934 6895
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Please contact the Patient Experience Team on 020 893 3850 if you need this information in a different format.
For detailed information on accessibility at Kingston Hospital visit Kingston Hospital AccessAble (https://www.accessable.co.uk/kingston-hospital-nhs-foundation-trust).

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