Mortuary review group: response

Response to review the standard of all mortuaries across Scotland, as defined by the Public Health (Scotland) Act 2008.


Everyone should receive the care, dignity and respect in death that we would wish in life, whilst also recognising the need to ensure public health and safety. Collaboration among the multiple agencies involved, is the key to ensuring that the people of Scotland, are put at the heart of the Mortuary and Post Mortem services covered by the publication of this guidance (see Annex F ).

The Scottish Health Planning Note SHPN 16-01 (revised HFS SPHN 20) series provides guidance on the planning of health and care related premises in Scotland, plus briefing and design support for the relevant professional bodies. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between the department design and its subsequent management. Since this equation will have important implications for capital and running costs, alternative solutions are sometimes proposed. The intention is to give the professional reader informed guidance on which to base investment decisions. This guidance is aimed at the multiple public bodies involved in the operation, planning or use of mortuary and post mortem facilities in Scotland, for either joint/ shared service or individual organisation use. This includes: NHS Boards in Scotland, Local Authorities, Police Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, plus their partnership organisations e.g. Universities.

SHPN 16-01 (revised HFS SPHN 20) provides facility guidance for mortuary and post mortem services' premises in Scotland, to support public bodies to:

  • design new buildings;
  • adapt or extend existing buildings;
  • assess the standards in existing facilities consistently.

The key functional elements in a modular format include:

  • Bereaved Visitors Facilities;
  • Body Receipt, Storage and Removal Facilities;
  • Post Mortem Facilities, including paediatric facilities, with or without Forensic Capability and Observation;
  • Staff and Support Facilities, with or without Post Mortem Services;
  • Teaching and Research.

This will allow a project-specific solution to be developed to suit local needs. The key functions for a given location, and their scale and quantity, must be planned on an inter-agency basis, at a national, regional and local level, with service quality, resilience and safety for the population as a key consideration.


  • Appropriate viewing facilities and environment must be provided at relevant venues. Not all facilities must be required to have all the services.
  • Compliance with the updated SHPN 16-01 (revised HFS SPHN 20) must be audited and monitored within the timescales agreed in the standards and explanations provided where the standards cannot be fully met.
  • Where standards cannot be fully met, plans must be developed to address the gaps and these plans must be monitored.


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