Public Health Funerals

Public health funerals are also known as national assistance funerals.

The Council does not provide a funeral service.  Under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, the Council has a statutory duty to make arrangements for the funeral or cremation of the body of any person who has died or found dead in the district, where no other agency or persons making suitable arrangements for the disposal of the body. We will recover funeral expenses from the deceased’s estate to limit the costs to our residents.

When does this happen?

The Council normally act on written instructions received from the local Coroners Officer.  Where a person dies in hospital, the Health Authority will take responsibility.

What happens next?

When the Coroner has notified us of a death where, as far as he/she is aware, there is no one available to make funeral arrangements, the Council will search the deceased persons home, this is a search for a will and any documents that indicate the existence of any relatives, religious beliefs or funeral preferences.

Who pays for the funeral?

Where the deceased has not left a will the person arranging the funeral (normally the next of kin) is liable to meet the funeral costs.  If there is no next of kin known to the Council we will register the death and arrange a funeral.

Burial or cremation?

Unless it appears that the deceased has left specific written instructions, arrangements will be made with a funeral director nominated by the Council for a cremation service at Woodvale Crematorium.  In either case an appropriate religious or non-religious ceremony would be arranged in accordance (as far as possible) with the deceased’s beliefs.

Cremated remains

The cremated remains of the deceased will be scattered in the gardens of remembrance unless specific written instructions are found amongst the deceased possessions or in a will.  Any costs associated with specific instructions will therein be met through the deceased’s estate.

What happens to the person’s property and personal effects?

If the deceased left furniture or other personal effects the Council will recover costs to meet funeral expenses.  In cases where the deceased has died intestate or has left a will and there are no next of kin, the matter will be referred to the Governments Solicitors – Bona Vacantia division of the Treasury Solicitors.

Further Information

Funerals undertaken by Mid Sussex District Council

A list is available with details of public health funerals undertaken by Mid Sussex District Council and is updated each time a case has been dealt with.


Environmental Health
Telephone: (01444) 477292
Fax: (01444) 477366