If the death was unexpected, you should dial 999 and ask for an ambulance and police immediately. You will be told what to do by the operator to establish whether you can try and resuscitate the person. The paramedics will carry out resuscitation or will confirm the death. Leave the area untouched apart from any attempt at resuscitation.
If the death was expected, perhaps due to a terminal illness, you should contact the deceased's GP or nearest doctor. If it happened during the night, you do not need to contact the doctor until the following morning unless you want to.
If the cause of death is known and from natural causes the doctor will issue the documents to allow you to register the death.
The police will arrange for the body to be moved by a funeral director acting for the coroner if the death is unexpected. If a doctor has confirmed an expected death you may call a funeral director of your own choice when you are ready to do so. Funeral directors provide a service any time of day or night to move the deceased to a funeral home.
If the doctor is unsure about the actual cause of death even if it was clearly from natural causes, or if the deceased died suddenly and had not been under a doctor's care during the past 14 days, or the death is unnatural, they will contact the coroner (or procurator fiscal in Scotland). The coroner or procurator fiscal may order a post mortem examination to determine the cause of death and then issue the documents allowing the death to be registered.
Donation of organs for transplant is not usually possible following a death out of hospital, but donation of tissues may still be possible. Please tell the doctor and funeral director as it may be necessary to move the body to a hospital rather than a funeral home.
If a death was unexpected or involved some kind of trauma you may require specialist cleaning services to help deal with the room or place where someone has died. There are companies that provide these services with sensitivity and discretion.
If you are dealing with the police or a funeral director they may be able to advise you, or call us on 0800 634 9494 for contact details of the companies nearest to you.