Leeds hospital bosses react to concerns over timely release of bodies for Muslim or Jewish burials

Leeds General Infirmary. Picture by Lynne Cameron/ PA Wire.
Leeds General Infirmary. Picture by Lynne Cameron/ PA Wire.
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A new policy aimed at making it easier for the bodies of deceased people of Muslim or Jewish faith to be released promptly for burial has been hailed as a “significant milestone” by councillors.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals (LTH) has adopted its first Care After Death and Bereavement Policy more than 18 months after delays in the release of bodies were highlighted.

The formal guidance is hoped to make hospital staff more aware of how to ensure the timely release of bodies so families can bury lost loved ones promptly in line with religious customs.

Leeds City Council’s health scrutiny board started discussions with the trust in 2014/15 over the issue after inspectors from the Care Quality Commission and community faith leaders raised concerns.

Coun Peter Gruen, chair of the scrutiny board, said: “Given this is the first formally adopted LTH policy that includes a specific procedure on the timely release of bodies for the families of deceased people with a Muslim or Jewish faith, we recognise and acknowledge this as a significant milestone for both LTH and the communities of Leeds.”

Coun Gruen did, however, express concern at the length of time taken by trust bosses to act on the issue and urged LTH to react more quickly to matters where a “specific community concern” has been identified in future.

The policy, discussed at scrutiny last week, was introduced by LTH in January after outreach work by the trust’s patient experience team. Its impact will be assessed in November.

The bereavement protocol has been bolstered by changes to the trust’s out of hours provision, meaning the correct procedures and paperwork can be completed promptly at all times of the day and night.