Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology


Healthcare Science Week 2024

Gemma Norburn on celebrating HCS week 2024 at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust

At BHRUT (Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust) we celebrate Healthcare Science week each year with a series of talks and events to highlight the important and hard work of all the healthcare scientists who work at the Trust.

One aspect of the week that I love each year is the series of tours that take place both within the Pathology laboratories and the mortuary, allowing these departments to showcase their work but also allowing staff members from across the Trust to be able to see work they may not normally be able to witness in their roles. This year I have been able to lead on the mortuary tours, during which we show staff around the mortuary and discuss the different areas. Not many people visit the mortuary unless for specific mandatory training, so it can be very insightful for others to be able to visit if they would like to.

During the tours, I normally start in our viewing room which is known as the Sunset Suite. I discuss the importance of families being able to visit their relatives in the mortuary, and also explain the relevance of the theme of the sunset within this area.

Our previous viewing area was very similar to a traditional chapel of rest and very Christian themed, but the new design is absent of any religious objects or themes which means no one feels excluded from using this area. Particularly important in our area of East London with a very diverse and multi-cultural population.

From there we move on to the post-mortem room which I always ensure is not in use at this time but fully cleaned down and prepped for the next session. This is a place that not many people would ever see other than on television in shows like Silent Witness or CSI, so I always make sure to explain that it may have some similarities but is largely quite different to how television portrays it.

I allow those on the tour to answer any questions they may have after a brief explanation of how the post mortem process works for us. I find that this can be the best way, and often people will want to understand the more intricate details of evisceration or reconstruction which they find fascinating.

Lastly, I wil show them the fridge room and explain about how deceased arrive with us in the mortuary. At this time I also explain what happens to the deceased during their time with us, detailing the condition monitoring process and what happens if there are any concerns about anyone’s condition. One of the aspects of the mortuary we try to emphasise is that just because someone has died does not mean that the care stops, and they are still a patient under the care of the hospital. I think this is reassuring for those who attend, and often not something they may have considered.

Healthcare Science Week is a great opportunity to hold tours or talks about our work, to highlight the importance of the work that we do and just get people thinking about the mortuary. I highly recommend trying something like this out at your place of work if you can!

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