BODIES collected by funeral parlours from hospital are being left naked and even with tubes still inserted into organs, the Observer has been told.
Eqbal Kadri, funeral administrator at Hendon Mosque Funeral Services, alleged the state of corpses picked up from both the hospital mortuary and the separately-run coroner’s mortuary at Northwick Park Hospital, Watford Road, Harrow, was ‘disrespectful’ to grieving families.
Canons ward councillor Husain Akhtar (pictured) complained to David McVittie, the chief executive of North West London Hospital NHS Trust, who responded by launching an internal investigation.
Mr Kadri said: “We collect bodies with tubes in them, in their throat or their stomach, but these should be removed before the body is taken to the morgue. They have got the proper equipment and training and we don’t and we don’t want fluids to pour out. We do our best to cut off the tubes so the families don’t get upset. We have to tell them we are doing this because most often the family members are with us when we wash and prepare the body for burial.”
The hospital mortuary deals with patients who have died naturally, while the coroner’s mortuary handles the deceased who require a post-mortem examination. Mr Kadri said the practices would be experienced by funeral parlours catering for all faiths or none and that previous complaints by Hendon Mosque Funeral Services had not improved matters. He said: “The hospital mortuary puts the bodies in a body bag, that’s fine, but the coroner’s mortuary leave the bodies naked for us to collect.”
He added: “It’s been going on for years and it’s really disrespectful to people. If we told the family of the state of the body, they would be really upset.”
A member of staff at a second funeral directors, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I can confirm that when the deceased has undergone a post-mortem by the North London Coroner’s officer, the body is released to the funeral director uncovered and unclothed, which is disrespectful and makes it difficult for us to transport them.”
Mr Akhtar said: “I do not know what the procedures are at the trust hospitals with regards to the deceased, but I would like to believe that these are to encourage respect for the dead. I hope the trust would be able to ensure ways to preserve the dignity of the dead and put into place measures to remove all tubes etc as well as to appropriately cover the deceased.”
A North West London Hospital NHS Trust spokesman said: “We are investigating the issues raised by councillor Akhtar and have agreed we will send him a response by February 25 at the latest, in line with NHS complaints legislation. Until a full investigation has been carried out, it would not be appropriate to comment on any of the issues raised by the councillor.”