If someone collapsed in a public place and they were taken to a hospital for emergency treatment but it was not possible to save their life, the death will almost always be referred to the coroner by the hospital.

If a doctor is called to the scene of the collapse and confirms that the person has died at the scene of the incident or a paramedic has confirmed that the person has died, their body may be taken to a hospital acting as a public mortuary. The body is then looked after until the coroner has completed their investigation. The same is true if the person’s body is moved directly to a purpose built public mortuary. In these circumstances the person’s body is kept cold but no other care is carried out until the coroner decides if a post-mortem examination or other investigation is needed.

It is not possible for anyone to collect the body of someone who has died out of hospital from the mortuary until the coroner has completed their investigation or given permission to a doctor (sometimes the GP or a hospital doctor who knows the patient can tell the coroner that the death is due to a known natural condition) to issue a certificate.