They’re not patients. they’re dead

Charles Cowling



We have this kind of conflict with doctors sometimes when coming ringing on doors and kind of going like,

“Hello, I’m a doctor.”

“That’s lovely, what do you want?”

“I’ve come to see a body.”

“Will mine do? What do you mean by that? Oh, have you come to see a patient?”

“They’re not patients, they’re dead.”

“No no no, until they leave the doors of this hospital they are deceased patients. They may be a different classification, but they’re our patients, and that’s how we see them and that’s how we look after them.”

Ruby, mortuary technologist, St Thomas’s Hospital, London.

Watch here

Hat-tip: Mary Robson

4 thoughts on “They’re not patients. they’re dead

  1. Charles Cowling
    David Holmes

    We do! Sometimes go into hospitals dressed in black and remove patients who have died. I have done this at small cottage hospitals – those without night porters or mortuary facilities. When I did so, I thought long and hard about how we looked. Scrubs would’ve helped us blend in, but a black suit, white shirt and black tie do make a statement about who we are and what we are doing.

    Most large hospitals use what I see as those David Copperfield trick box style stretchers – those with a ‘space’ beneath a fake top that attempts to conceal the deceased – masking the outline of the body. I disapprove! Death is a part of hospital life – so why do so many have few signs directing you to their mortuary?

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    andrew plume

    yep Ruby came over as a terrific caring individual, I was very impressed

    it was also great to see a considerably younger Mortuary operative too

    I suspect Ruby thought that those may well be dressed in topper and tails and carrying the obligatory gloves and whatever…….but probably not……as that isn’t standard removal dress sense


    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    Andrew Hickson (Kingfisher Funerals)

    You answer your own question in your last sentence, Poppy.

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    Poppy Mardall

    This is amazing. Ruby speaks the truth. And some great footage of the work that goes unrecognised.

    Only thing I didn’t understand. Ruby asks – “imagine what it would be like if you had funeral directors turning up on a ward with a trolley for deceased people and in their regalia, it wouldn’t be very nice for the patients who are still alive.” Why not? If they were kind people who were dressed in calm, normal clothes, why would that be bad for the patients?

    Charles Cowling

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