Stephanie Holt-Castle (Interim Director of Environment, Planning and Enforcement) was in attendance for this item.
1. Mrs Hohler (Deputy Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services) introduced the report that set out the proposed future provision of contractual arrangements for mortuary and Post Mortem Examination (PME) services in the Mid Kent and Medway coroner area. Local authorities had a legal obligation to support the work of coroners, to fund all costs of the service and to provide the necessary resources to enable the coroners to carry out their statutory obligations. Kent County Council did not have its own public mortuary and had therefore always commissioned the NHS in Kent and Medway to provide the service. The paper therefore proposed that a four-year contract be awarded to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust for the provision of post mortem facilities at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury for the Mid Kent and Medway coroner area.
2. The officer responded to comments and questions as follows:
(a) Mrs Holt-Castle assured Members that Kent County Council worked closely with the South East 7 (SE7) to compare the various costs that the NHS Trusts were charging, however, Kent County Council were under legal obligation to meet the costs of the Coroner Service and were required to pay the requested amount by local NHS Trusts. Kent County Council was exploring alternative providers to the NHS which allowed for a public mortuary and digital autopsy, however, PME facilities were currently limited to the NHS as there were no private sectors suppliers that could offer the same highly specialised service. Kent County Council was also due to host an inaugural seminar of the SE7 Coroner Services to review the pressures, both nationally and within the South East.
3. RESOLVED that the proposed decision (19/00055) to be taken by the Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services to award a four-year contract to Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) for the provision of post mortem (PM) facilities at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury, for the Mid Kent & Medway coroner area, be endorsed.