To award 12 month extensions to the contracts for the provision of post mortem (PM) facilities to East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust and Medway NHS Trust.
The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 places a duty on Coroners to investigate deaths that are referred to them if they have reason to think that:
In some cases the Coroner will order a PM to establish the cause of death and in such cases the deceased is taken to one of 5 NHS mortuaries across Kent and Medway located at Margate, Ashford, Dartford, Tunbridge Wells and Gillingham.
On behalf of the Senior Coroner, KCC ensures there is adequate storage capacity for Coroner’s bodies and that the Coroner has access to PM facilities. KCC does not have its own public mortuary facility and so like many other coroner areas across England and Wales it has no choice but to use local NHS hospitals which have the necessary facilities for this purpose; there are no private sector providers of PM facilities anywhere in England and Wales.
The contracts with these two NHS Trusts expire on the 30th September 2021 and it is necessary to put in place contract extensions to secure this critical service until such time as the proposed Digital Autopsy facility at Aylesford opens for business, currently estimated for July 2022. Discussions have been held with each of the Trusts and whilst they are happy to extend the contracts they have insisted this must be for 12 months to guarantee that all their fixed and variable costs are met, which is an understandable approach. It has therefore been agreed that the contracts will be extended from 1 October 2021 to 30 September 2022 and if need be, can be terminated early by KCC serving six months notice.
The contract with East Kent NHS Trust is a fixed fee regardless of activity levels and is paid in 12 equal installments. At the point where the DA facility opens, all deceased that would normally have undergone an invasive PM will be scanned, so dependent on if and when notice is served to end the contract extension, KCC could potentially be liable for both DA scanning charges and the monthly charge for PM’s even though no PM’s will be taking place in the East Kent area. To mitigate this scenario, the move over to DA will be phased with deaths in the East Kent area not being scanned until the contract extension comes to an end. Based on 2020 activity levels the estimated cost of the East Kent contract extension is within the budgeted revenue cost for 2021-22.
The contract with Medway NHS Trust is based on a cost per PM, so if there are no PM’s, there are no costs to KCC. This means that at the point where the DA facility opens, KCC will only have to meet the scan charge. Based on 2020 activity levels the estimated costs of the Medway contract extension is within the budgeted revenue cost for 2021-22.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;
Decision status: For Determination
Division affected: (All Division);
Notice of proposed decision first published: 09/09/2021
Anticipated restriction: Part exempt -
Explanation of anticipated restriction:
The report will include commercially sensitive information.
Decision due: Not before 8th Oct 2021 by Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services
Lead member: Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services
Lead director: Stephanie Holt-Castle
Department: Growth, Environment & Transport
Contact: Giles Adey, Head of Registration & Coroners Phone number: 07740 186032 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01622 221003.