Body started to decompose at St Mary’s Hospital Mortuary

By Mal Butler May 24, 2024

The IW NHS Trust has apologised after being named in a Human Tissue Authority (HTA) report, claiming a body showed signs of decomposition after being stored for more than 30 days at St Mary’s Hospital without being placed in a freezer.

The HTA regulates mortuary conditions, and found at least 10 cases across the country since 2022, where inspectors discovered one or more bodies had started to deteriorate.

The report was published in the respected Health Service Journal, with several trusts saying they had needed to inform families of cases where bodies had deteriorated. An HTA spokesman said: “The management of the deceased in some licensed mortuaries was identified as a concern through the HTA on-site inspection process.

“The deceased should be stored at temperatures that preserve their condition and there should be sufficient storage provision and alternatives in place if needed.”

The report stated: “A body showed ‘signs of decomposition’ and had been stored for over 30 days without being placed in the freezer at St Mary’s Hospital, Isle of Wight (February 2023).”

An Isle of Wight NHS Trust spokesman said this week: “Whilst we ensure our Mortuary Service is compliant with the standards set by the Health Tissue Authority (HTA), and the dignity of the deceased is maintained, there has been an occasion whereby a family has requested for a body to be refrigerated for longer.

“We are unable to comment further on this individual cash; however, we can confirm this was an exception.

“Since February 2023 we have strengthened our policy for storing bodies beyond 30 days, and we have implemented a new digital system to improve our audit processes.”