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Public health funerals

We have a duty to dispose of a deceased body under the provisions of the National Assistance and the Public Health (Control of Disease) Acts 1948, if the person who died has no assets or if there are no relatives who can make funeral arrangements.


We have had to make changes to funerals and cremations - we appreciate this is a very important service and are working closely with funeral directors to ensure as little disruption as possible.

The number of attendees allowed at a service is 15, limited to members of the deceased's household, close family or in their absence, a family friend. We will provide web casts free of charge to allow family members to watch services provided that they are ordered with your funeral director 48 hours in advance of the service. A download link will be made available for anyone requesting a web cast, but this may take up to 3 weeks to arrive. See changes to funeral and cremation services for more information.

Hospitals and care homes may also be able to help if the person dies while in their care. Initial contact is usually through the Coroner.

If the next of kin is known, contact will be made to establish if they will accept responsibility. Legal responsibility for married couples rests with the spouse, and for children it rests with the parents.

We will only provide a basic funeral and will not pay for the following:

  • notices in newspapers
  • flowers
  • transport (other than the hearse)
  • church service/minister fees

Where no one is prepared to accept responsibility for the funeral or estate, we will then deal with these matters and recover the costs if there are sufficient funds available.

If known, the deceased's wishes will be observed, for example, cremation as opposed to burial. However, if a burial is undertaken it will be in an un-purchased grave and therefore no headstone can be erected.

Public health funeral records

The  Icon for pdf Public Health funerals records (PDF, 265.6kb)  document provides a list of people who died with no next of kin and we arranged their funeral.

If you require further information, please contact us.


Contact us
Public Funerals
03000 265 609
Our address is:
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ
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