Objections to post mortems and religious considerations
We know that some families object to a post mortem examination being performed on their relative. We understand and respect the basis of these objections. However, we must also uphold the law and apply it fairly to everyone.
The Coroner has the authority to make the final decision and if necessary can order a post mortem even if the family does not agree. This is clearly a very difficult situation and we will do all we can to support you and minimise the delay to your funeral arrangements.
Why must there be a post mortem?
The Coroner must, by law, order a post mortem examination if the cause of death is potentially unnatural or if is not known. Please see the section on post mortem examinations for further explanation.
The Coroner never orders a post mortem without careful consideration. Where it seems likely that death was due to natural causes, we make every effort to trace a doctor who may be able to certify the cause of death.
Can I appeal against the decision?
If they want to appeal, families can give their reasons to the Coroner in writing. This can be done by email or by letter. If you let us know you plan to do this, we will not start the post mortem examination until the Coroner has looked at the further information you have given and we have spoken to you about their decision.
Is it possible to do an MRI or CT scan as an alternative?
In some cases, it is possible to determine the cause of death by post mortem medical scanning. The Manchester City coroner's area is one of the pioneers of this technique.
If you want to explore the possibility of using a scan, let us know, and the Coroner will decide whether they will accept this. In cases where there are suspicious circumstances or other special considerations, the Coroner needs the extra information it is possible to gain from a full post mortem, so scanning will not be sufficient.
Post-mortem scanning takes place at a specialist centre in north Manchester. Families need to make their own arrangements and also pay for the scan. The Muslim and Jewish communities have representatives who can organise this for you. We can put you in touch with them if necessary.
A scan is not always suitable or useful, as there are many medical conditions that the imaging techniques do not pick up. Your representative may be able to give you advice on whether there is a realistic chance of it being successful for your relative.
If the scan does not reveal the cause of death, a post mortem examination will still be necessary.
Can I request a Pathologist the same gender as my relative?
If you tell us this is important to you, we will inform the hospital. However, neither they nor we can guarantee which doctor will do the examination.
Is there any way of speeding up the process?
When we are aware that a family wish to hold a funeral as soon as possible, we will inform the hospital. They will then perform the post mortem examination as soon as practically possible. This unfortunately may not be immediately as it depends on the capacity of the post mortem facilities and the availability of doctors. Because of this, we do not guarantee a set timescale. However, we are usually able to release your relative within three to four working days, rather than the usual five to seven.
It is very important that you do not confirm a date for the funeral or repatriation flight until the Coroner has completed their investigations.
A few families have tried to speed up the process by repeatedly phoning or visiting the office. While we understand the urgency that you feel, this does not help. We are already doing everything we can. We have found that the most practical way forward is for the family to choose one person to communicate with the office and we will keep them informed of all developments.