Coronavirus post-mortems ‘compromised’ claims KCC member

KCC County Hall

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

Post-mortem examinations have not been carried out on people who have died from coronavirus in the communities, which has been described as a “failure” of the system by a Kent councillor.

Kent county councillor Sean Holden (Con) said autopsies could be critical to understanding the disease, including how it moves between people in towns and villages and which organs are most affected in the body. Cllr Holden says he fears that the process has been “compromised”.

At a KCC virtual meeting earlier this week, he said: “Covid may be stated as a cause of death, but we don’t know that it’s the cause of death and we are not understanding how the pandemic moves as well as we ought to be.”

KCC’s corporate director for environment, planning and enforcement director, Stephanie Holt-Castle, said that the decision was taken by Boris Johnson’s Government to prevent coroner services from being “overwhelmed” during the pandemic.

She told the KCC communities committee: “They believed that would slow down the entire process, which would be very distressing for families if the original predicted volumes of death had been realised.”

Under Government Covid-19 guidelines, a qualified doctor signs a medical certificate to record a coronavirus death. This will be taken to the registrar.

The coroner will then issue a certificate to the registrar to state that a post-mortem is not needed unless the cause of death is unknown or unexplained.

However, Cllr Holden (pictured) publicly criticised the system during a virtual meeting involving 20 councillors and officers of KCC’s communities cabinet briefing on Monday.

The Tunbridge Wells councillor told members: “I think it would be something of a failure in our practices if there should be another such emergency.”

A multi-agency “death pathway” group, which is made up of Kent Police, South East Coast Ambulance service, the NHS and coroners service, have worked together to ensure that the service provided is “fair” and “sympathetic”, Ms Holt-Castle said.

She added: “If there is a Covid death in the community, anybody who dies outside of a hospital, then if coronavirus is ascribed as the cause or a contributing factor then no-post mortem would be required by the coroner service, but that does not apply to Covid deaths in hospitals.”

More than 1,200 people have died from coronavirus in Kent, which includes nearly 900 in the county’s hospitals. Fears were expressed of a higher volume of deaths as KCC spent around £11million in April on putting up three temporary mortuaries, including one in Aylesford, which could store up to 3,000 bodies.

However, KCC’s head of registration, James Pearson, said the demand for death registrations had been met by coroners, adding that many of the certifications had been carried out over the phone to speed up the process.


  1. Good to know that every single decision taken by Johnson has been wrong.

    Oh well, it’s what everyone wanted. I guess running a country is different to being on Have I Got News For You.

  2. I would have thought post mortems would be done on everyone who died that I thought was norm what are they saying if someone dies from coronaviris is exempt. What if they didn’t die from it? Everyone is working hard to beat this are they Shure is it a viris or bacterial that can be treated.

  3. If truth was told it might surprise people to know that many who are said to have died from Covid 19
    were never tested to confirm that they did actually have the virus. A friend of mine died aged 94, she was for her age still active and living in her own home independently doing her own shopping. If anyone asked her age she always replied “just past 80” never revealing her true age, year after year she was still “ just past 80”. She had a fall and broke her ankle and had an head injury. She was admitted to hospital for observation and died 3 days later. On her death certificate it mentioned Covid 19 had contributed to her death. She was never tested for it.

  4. HMGOV must get their act together, in Jan/Feb when 1300+ had already come into U.K. from Europe with coronavirus spreading it to start the U.K pandemic which our PM appeared to have trivialised going off to Chequers for 12 days in Kent and even in the PHOTO CALL DRESSED IN YELLOW LAB COAT assuring the U.K. that “the disease would be MILD for the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of patients (LYING ABOUT BEING ON COVID WARD/LAB remember the hand shaking) when those who knew were elbow bumping! I and no doubt lots of our Cabinet Office staff, journalists could write a book on what has taken place but wonder whether they were gagged.I have willingly signed all petitions starting with PPE & now text and trace that is slated by the thousands of recently employed staff who feel ashamed of payment when NO WORK AS IT HAS ALSO FAILED FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE TIME. As for Cummings farce, having his feeble excuses while we did what we were instructed to, OCT in my case so far, DVL should be making him attend a MEDICAL & PSYCHIATRIC IS INCLUDED TO SEE HIM EXPLAIN HIS OFFENCE OF DRIVING WHILE UNFIT ETC WHICH TESTING YOUR EYESIGHT BY DRIVING SOME 30 MILES IS, SO YORKS. POLICE GET YOUR ACT SORTED TOO, SIGNED PETITION TODAY TO GET HIM SACKED. START PUBLIC ENQUIRY NOW BORIS TO ENSURE WE ARE PREPARED FOR FUTURE PANDEMICS & or 2nd WAVE. Listen to your scientists, doctors and MPs who agree you are making things worse for us all, most are law abiding and complied until Cummings blew it for you – GET RID PROMPTLY BORIS please.

  5. Coroners carry out inquests on deaths from unknown or suspicious causes. CV19 deaths are certified by the patient’s GP or hospital doctor. Coroners’ inquests are not for the purpose of scientific enquiry. That is best done by a planned controlled trial and plenty of those are occurring across the world. To insist on inquests on CV deaths would be pointless and exhaust HM Coroners’ service..

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