The bereavement, medical examiner and mortuary services work together to provide a compassionate, efficient and safe service that ensures each patient death is managed promptly, with skill and involves the bereaved family and friends at each step. 

Our team of specialised mortuary staff will care for each of our deceased patients in line with national frameworks and in dedicated facilities that ensure safety and dignity at all times.

The bereavement and medical examiner service will focus on the administration of the death, with the aim of establishing a natural cause of death and issuing documentation that will allow the bereaved to register the death and then proceed to a funeral. 

In doing so, the team of skilled staff will work with the treating doctors, independent doctors who will review every death (the medical examiner service) and will liaise with His Majesty’s Coroner where needed. 

In all we do and how we work, we know the death of a relative or friend is a tragic life event that will have an enduring impact on those left behind. 

At the Royal Free London, we are determined to provide a service, after death, that reflects the respect we have for every patient, in life. 

Our intention is to deliver individualised care to all our deceased patients and our bereaved families, friends, and carers throughout the management of every death.

You can find more information below on each of the three services, and on other organisations that can offer assistance and support. 

“We have one chance to embed the safest possible memories at the worst possible time.”  

Barnet Hospital

Enquiries:020 8216 4401

Bereavement office: 020 8216 4701

The bereavement office is open between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Medical examiner office

Weekday tel: 020 8216 4744 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm)

Weekend tel: 020 7472 6393 (Saturday and Sunday, including bank holidays, 8.30 to 11.30am)

Mortuary office

Tel: 020 8216 4716 ext 64716 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm)


Royal Free Hospital

Enquiries: 020 7830 2863, and 020 7794 0500 ext 33343 or 38712

Bereavement office: 020 7830 2863

The bereavement office is open between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. 

Medical examiner office

Weekday tel: 020 7472 6393 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm)

Weekend tel: 020 7472 6393 (Saturday and Sunday, including bank holidays, 8.30 to 11.30am)

Mortuary office

Tel: 020 7830 2373 ext 33354 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm)


You can also find contact information for registration services and His Majesty’s Coroner service on this page.

You may wish to visit your loved one after they have died in hospital.  

Your loved one will stay in the mortuary at either Barnet Hospital or the Royal Free hospital, where our compassionate mortuary team will keep your loved one safe and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect until they are transferred into the care of your nominated funeral directors.

You may be able to visit your loved one in the mortuary by appointment. The visiting suites are open 10am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday only, and the appointments last 30 minutes.

To book a visiting appointment in the mortuary:

You will be asked to complete a short form and you will need to give details about your loved one. This will include their:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • date of death

If you cannot physically attend the mortuary (for example, if you live abroad or have mobility difficulties) but still would like to see your loved one, we can offer virtual visits. Please contact the mortuary team for more information.

A coroner is a judicial role responsible for investigating deaths that may be unnatural, violent or where the cause of death is simply not known. 

The coroner is supported in their role by a team of coroner's officers based at the local coroner's office. The office is not open at weekends or bank holidays, so cases will not be reviewed by their office until at least the next working day.

A coroner may sometimes decide a post-mortem is necessary to help find out the cause of death, for example where a doctor has been unable to complete a medical certificate of cause of death.

A post-mortem is carried out by a pathologist — a doctor who specialises in examining body organs, tissues and fluids to make a medical diagnosis.

The coroner does not need your consent for a post-mortem, but they will explain why they feel one is necessary and discuss potential alternatives where applicable. 

It will be carried out as soon as possible to avoid delays to any funeral arrangements. The coroner’s office will let you know of timescales and if there are any delays. 

The coroner’s office will be able to discuss the findings of the post-mortem once the pathologist’s report is available and provide you with a copy if you wish.

Interim death certificate

Whilst you will not be able to register the death while you wait for the results of the post-mortem, the coroner will provide you with interim death certificates to allow you to deal with things like arranging the funeral, closing bank accounts and applying for probate.

Some financial organisations, for example life insurance, may also require further information in writing from the coroner, in addition to the interim death certificate.

The coroner will authorise the person to be released from the hospital mortuary to the appointed funeral director as soon as possible after the post-mortem examination has been completed. They do not need to wait for the pathologist’s report. 

Not all deaths referred to the coroner need to have a post-mortem examination. 

Our local coroner's offices

  • The Inner North London Coroner is responsible for investigating deaths referred to the coroner that have occurred in the Royal Free Hospital. Tel: 020 7974 4545.
  • The North London Coroner is responsible for investigating deaths referred to the Coroner that have occurred in Barnet Hospital. Tel: 020 8447 7680.

This is a post-mortem examination carried out with the consent of the family or representative of the patient. It is different to a coroner post-mortem in that it is only carried out when a doctor already knows the cause of death and the medical certificate of cause of death has been accepted by you.

The doctor may seek permission from you to carry out a hospital consented post-mortem if they feel it may help in determining a more definitive diagnosis, give information about the effect of treatment given, or the events leading up to death. 

They can also be useful to better understand how a disease has spread, or whether the person who died had a genetically inherited disease (which may affect surviving relatives). 

Finding out more about illnesses may help doctors treat patients in the future.

The doctor must ask you for permission to carry out this type of post-mortem unless the person had already given their signed permission during their life. 

If consent has been given by the person during their lifetime, this is binding in law. However, in practice, doctors will discuss this with you before going ahead, to avoid causing additional distress. 

You can also request a hospital consented post-mortem examination. If this is something you would like to discuss, please speak to the medical examiner or bereavement team.

Our bereavement service aims to ensure every patient’s death is managed with compassion, skill and efficiency while also ensuring all required regulations and procedures are followed correctly. 

It is our intention and passion to ensure all our bereaved families and friends receive individualised care, with kindness at the heart of every interaction.  

Our dedicated bereavement officers will provide practical and emotional support to the families and friends of patients who have died within the trust's care and where possible, offer practical advice to staff members who are bereaved.

Working in partnership to support families

Our bereavement officers work closely with doctors, nurses and midwives to ensure prompt completion of all the necessary paperwork after a death. 

They are also able to explain how to register a death, appoint a funeral director and how to arrange for a deceased relative or friend to be repatriated overseas if this is required.

Working in partnership to support relatives

The bereavement officers also work closely with the local coroner’s office, funeral directors, and the registrars at the appropriate town hall, to ensure bereaved families and friends have access to all the information and services they require.

Throughout their work, our bereavement officers will ensure that wherever possible, faith, tradition and culture are supported in every possible way. 

Family or friends are asked to call the appropriate bereavement office after 10am so they can update them on the progress of their required paperwork and guide them on the next step they will need to take to register the death.

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed in April 2023 the implementation of a statutory National Medical Examiner Service for scrutiny of all non-coronial deaths from April 2024.  

The changes will put all the medical examiner system’s obligations, duties and responsibilities on to a statutory footing and ensure they are recognised by law.  

Medical examiners are part of a national network of specially trained independent senior doctors from any specialty. Overseen by the National Medical Examiner, they scrutinise all deaths.  

The Medical Examiner Service was a key recommendation in several high profile independent enquiries into patient safety and avoidable deaths. The aim of this service is to: 

  • Provide a better service for the bereaved and an opportunity for them to raise any concerns to a doctor not involved in the care of the deceased. 

  • Ensure the appropriate direction of deaths to the coroner. 

  • Provide greater safeguards for the public by ensuring proper scrutiny of all non-coronial deaths. 

  • Improve the quality of death certification and mortality data. 

The service supports the bereaved by explaining what is written on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and asking if they have any questions or concerns about the care the person received before their death. Having the opportunity to discuss this with an independent, specially trained person can provide better understanding of why the person died, including having medical terminology explained. 

If the Medical Examiner Service consider any issues with care need further investigation, they will refer on appropriately.  

In addition to hospital deaths across the trust, the medical examiner service for community deaths in the borough of Barnet will be provided by the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.  

Who can I contact if I have further questions? 

Contact us if you wish to discuss any part of the medical examiner service, contact us at the email address or telephone number below:  

Barnet Hospital Monday to Friday: 8am to 4pm 

Royal Free Hospital Monday to Friday: 8am to 4pm 

Monday to Friday: 8am to 4pm 

Saturday and Sunday: 8.30am to 11.30am 

People are becoming more aware that they can help others by donating tissue after death.

Tissues such as corneas (part of the eye), bone, tendons, heart valves and skin can save patients’ lives or sight, but most donations give patients relief from pain and suffering.

Even if your loved one does not have a donor card, relatives can give permission for tissue donation on their behalf.

The decision to donate is, of course, very personal, and it is important you have an opportunity to consider this. You can ask the medical team or bereavement or mortuary teams for more information to help you with your decision.

The best time for donation is within 24 hours after someone has died. However, sometimes it is possible to donate up to 48 hours after death. After this, it will not be possible.

You can contact NHS Blood and Transplant, Tissue Services for more information on 0800 432 0559 (freephone).

Registration service for births, deaths and marriages

Deaths at Barnet Hospital

Barnet Register Office Hendon Town Hall 
The Burroughs

8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday; 9am to 4pm, Saturday; 9am to 1pm, Sunday.

Tel: 020 8359 6400

Deaths at the Royal Free Hospital

Camden Register Office 
Camden Town Hall 
Judd Street

9am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. Appointments available for Saturdays upon request.

Tel: 020 7974 4444 option 6

His Majesty’s Coroner service

Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital

HM Coroner’s Court
North London Coroner’s Court 
29 Wood Street
High Barnet 


Royal Free Hospital

HM Coroner’s Court St Pancras
Camley Street

Tel: 020 7974 4545

General support

Age UK

Offers support for older people, particularly for significant life change and distress.

Tel: 0800 169 6565

Cruse Bereavement Care

Trained volunteers offer emotional and practical support through 180 branches nationwide.

Tel: 080 8808 1677


24-hour emotional support over the phone and in person. 

Tel: 116 123
Samaritans website

The Compassionate Friends

Provides support and friendship for bereaved parents and families.

Tel: 0345 123 2304

Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service

Bereavement counselling for everyone in the Jewish community. 

Tel: 020 8951 3881

Asian Family Counselling Service

Supports a wide range of issues, including bereavement, for the South Asian community.

Tel: 020 8574 0912 (London), 0121 454 1130 (West Midlands) 

Switchboard LGBT+ helpline

Dedicated support for those from the LGBT+ community, their family and friends.

Tel: 0300 330 0630
Switchboard LGBT+ helpline website

Chai Cancer Care

Support and counselling for those bereaved through cancer. 

Tel: 0808 808 4567
Chai Cancer Care website

Dedicated support for bereaved children

Winston’s Wish

Immediate and long-term support for bereaved children.

Tel: 0808 802 0021
Winston’s Wish website

Child Bereavement UK

Dedicated support for those who have lost a child and/or a child who has suffered bereavement.

Tel: 0800 028 8840
Child Bereavement UK website

Child Death Helpline

Services for those who have suffered the loss of a child and for bereaved children.

Tel: 0800 282 986 or 0808 800 6019
Child Death Helpline website


Support for children in any kind of distress, including those who are bereaved.

Tel: 0800 1111
Childline website

The generosity of our donors and enthusiasm of our volunteers enables the Royal Free, Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals to go beyond their NHS funding so that we meet our joint clinical and research ambitions faster.

Your support is helping us fund research, equipment, facilities, amenities and services for patients and staff. If you would like to support the Bereavement team, please get in contact with the fundraising team at, or call 020 7317 7772.