Patient Services

Patient Affairs - Bereavement

This is our main role and controls the majority of our time. Our aim is to provide a compassionate, dignified and caring service for the deceased patient, their family and friends. To offer an advisory service and smooth the way in the processes that will follow. We are involved in liaising with various agencies, such as the Coroner and the Coroner’s Officers, The London School of Anatomy, Tissue Retrieval Teams, other NHS hospitals, Funeral Directors, Registry Office and Local Government Offices.

We strive to establish a relationship with the family and friends seeking our services, offering help and advice where needed. Sometimes this can be a very involved process especially when the deceased has expressed a wish for their body to be donated for research purposes or where relatives cannot be traced.

As we live in a diverse society we make every effort to observe and respect the cultural and religious needs of every family.

We also meet the families upon collection of The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and any property we have held for safekeeping can respectfully be returned to the family at this time.

If family or friends ask to see their relative or friend in the hospital’s viewing room the team will try to arrange a viewing. When friends are attending the family must give their permission.

The loss of a baby, presents an especially sad and distressing time for parents. When invited we meet and offer appropriate advice and discuss options that are available to parents regarding their baby’s funeral. At this point it may be appropriate to introduce our dedicated Spiritual and Pastoral Care team. We work closely with the Chaplains and they regularly conduct the service when we arrange for a baby funeral.

Unfortunately from time to time an adult will die leaving no known next of kin. When this occurs our team step in and act upon their behalf, registering the death, organising the funeral and dealing with their estate as appropriate. Every effort is made to try and locate family and to inform friends about the funeral.

Condolence Cards

The Trust wishes to express condolences to any family faced with bereavement, however, if the deceased is one of our patients we will endeavour to send a condolence card to the next of kin.

Bereavement Booklet

Patient Affairs, Wards and the Accident and Emergency Departments all hold the Trust Bereavement Booklet (named, Help for Bereaved relatives). This should always be given to the family and friends, enclosed are contact details and general information to help advice and support at this time.

Bereavement Questionnaires should be in the Bereavement Booklet. We ask if you are or when you feel able, to complete the form and return to us in the freepost envelope, the information supplied will help us to gauge our services and will enable the Trust to continue to look at ways to improve services provided.

If you are not in receipt of a Questionnaire but would like the opportunity to complete one, please contact Patient Affairs on any of the office telephone numbers or please download a Bereavement Questionnaires and send it by freepost to:

Lesley Lopez
Patient and Public Involvement Lead
NAT 2520
Hemel Hempstead

Bereavement: What is Normal?

A leaflet is available to all bereaved, it is designed to help explain and support how you may feel following the loss of a relative or friends. The leaflets are available from Patient Affairs and the Spiritual and Pastoral Care Team.

Registering a Death

Once the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death has been issued to you please register the death with the Registrar of Births and Deaths and this should be within five working days. To make an appointment you need to phone the Registry Office central telephone number 0300 123 4045 who will make an appointment for you at your local office in Hertfordshire or you can make an appointment by going on line at

Out of Hours Registration

If a burial is to take place on either a Saturday or Sunday where a doctor knows and has treated the patient a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death can be issued providing the Coroner does not need to be involved.

The Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Hatfield will offer an out of hour’s service, by appointment only.

  • Saturday 09.30am – 12.30pm contact 0300 123 4045
  • Sunday 09.00am – 11.00pm contact 0300 123 4045

Alternatively, you can make an appointment by going on line at

A green certificate will be issued by the Registrar; this will need to be given to your Funeral Director who will be required to bring this certificate to the hospital along with the hospital Transfer of Care form, signed by the next of kin. The site Co-ordinator must be contacted and a time arranged before any deceased patient can be released form the hospital mortuary.

© 2000 - West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust