Issue details

21/00096 - Contract for Post Mortem Facilities for the North West Kent Coroner area


Withdrawn as the decision was taken under  Decision - 22/00102 - Contract extensions for the provision of Post-Mortem Facilities for the Mid Kent & Medway, North West Kent, and East Kent coroner areas



Proposed Decision:

To award a 12 month extension to the contract for the provision of post mortem (PM) facilities to Dartford & Gravesham 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:

  • The death was violent or unnatural;
  • The cause of death is unknown; or
  • The deceased died while in prison, police custody or another form of state detention eg where a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard Order (DoLS) is in place

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 Coroners, KCC ensures there is adequate storage capacity for coroner’s bodies and that the oroners have 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 contract with Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust expired on the 30th September 2021 and it has been necessary to put a contract extension in place to secure this critical service until such time as the proposed Digital Autopsy facility at Aylesford opens for business, currently estimated for August/September 2022. The Trust is agreeable to extend the contract for 12 months as this will guarantee that all their fixed and variable costs are met, which is an understandable approach.  It has therefore been agreed that the contract 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.

Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;

Decision status: Withdrawn

Notice of proposed decision first published: 29/10/2021

Anticipated restriction: Part exempt  - View reasons

Explanation of anticipated restriction:
The report will include commercially sensitive information.

Decision due: 29 Nov 2021 by Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services


Consultation has been undertaken with:

Senior Coroner, Mid Kent & Medway

Senior Coroner, North West Kent

Head of Coroner Service

Financial implications: The contract with the 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.