Paupers Funerals Death in Hospital

Paupers Funerals Death in Hospital – how are they dealt with?

Paupers funerals following a death in Hospital follow guidelines under the NHS Management Executive (1992, 1997), Treasury Solicitor Guidelines (2009) and Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act (1984).

Hospitals have a statutory obligation to arrange a paupers funeral for patients who die in hospital if no-one else is prepared to make the arrangements because:

a) relatives cannot be traced, or

b) relatives cannot afford to pay for the funeral and do not qualify for Social Fund Funeral Payments, or

c) relatives are unwilling to take responsibility for the funeral arrangements.

It makes no difference to the process initially whether the deceased had assets enough to pay for the funeral: if the family won’t take responsibility, the hospital must do so.  They will recover any costs from the estate of the deceased if possible and they will add an administration fee too.

Bereavement Services Officers are responsible for arranging the funeral by the policy of the particular hospital.  They are likely to stick closely to the rules as otherwise they may expose themselves to being sued.

In most cases the estate of the deceased will be referred to the Treasury Solicitor to be dealt with.

Funeral Plan Quotes

Advance Planning to avoid a paupers funeral.

There are a number of tips for families wishing to avoid NHS paupers funerals on the page about the Government Funeral Payment.


Staff must:

a) Confirm that the deceased has no known next of kin or where next of kin who are willing to make funeral arrangements.  Considerable investigations will take place, and it is usual to go as far as placing an advert in a local paper.  These investigation may delay the funeral for up to two weeks.  Were there any visitors, was there a Last Will, does the GP, social worker, landlord etc  know of any next of kin, family or friends willing and able to make the arrangements (and thus accept financial responsibility) etc etc. The deceaseds home will also be searched in an attempt to discover next of kin.

b) Complete the Medical Cause of Death Certificate and Cremation Forms by the proper doctors.

c) Complete statutory paperwork as required for the local authority.

d) Provide a decent quality service through the contracted funeral director.

Some references:

NHS Management Executive HSG (1992) – Patients who die in hospital – Guidance on patients who die in hospital.

NHS Management Executive HSG (1997) – Patients who die in hospital – Guidance on minimum standards for funerals of patients who die in hospital where the NHS Trust takes responsibility.

Treasury Solicitors (2008) – Referring cases to the Treasury Solicitor (BV): A guide for local authorities and hospitals.

Death in Hospital Paupers Funerals for Deceased Adult Patients.