Product design with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust

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North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust provides services to more than 400,000 people living in Stockton-on-Tees, Hartlepool, East Durham and parts of Sedgefield.

NHS North Tees and Hartlepool NHS foundation trust is an integrated hospital and community services healthcare organisation.

The Trust is facing a challenge to design an innovative trolley on which to transport deceased patients through the existing hospital. When a patient passes away, the body is transferred from ward to mortuary through the Trust premises, on an outdated ‘mortuary trolley’. Their concern is that seeing this transportation happen can cause stress and anxiety for patients, visitors and staff at the hospital.

While the process of transportation cannot be changed, the challenge is to design a trolley that makes the process more dignified for the deceased and discreet for those who witness the journey.

People current state and future state

Current state

Future state

The deceased
There can be a lack of discretion for those who have passed during transportation through the hospital wards and corridors.

The deceased
Those who have passed are transported with full discretion.

Use of the current ‘mortuary trolley’ is indiscreet and can cause distress to those witnessing its use.

Patients are now unaware of the transportation of deceased patients, taking away the stress and anxiety previously linked to seeing the trolley.

Visiting relatives in hospital is often worrying enough without seeing the transportation of deceased patients on indiscreet trolleys.

Visitors can remain focused on visiting their loved ones without the stress and anxiety of seeing deceased patients on trolleys.

While hospital staff have to deal with death and illness every day, the sight of body removal is an unnecessary addition to their working environment.

Staff members are able to focus on their own jobs without being subjected to additional emotional distress.

Technology current state and future state

Current state

Future state

The trolleys used to transfer deceased patients from ward to mortuary – often known as mortuary trolleys – are outdated and indiscreet. The design and use of the current trolleys makes the process of transportation obvious and undignified.



The process of transporting deceased people to the mortuary is now invisible to staff, patients and visitors thanks to the design of the product used.

In scope

  • Product design
  • Manufacturing design including ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
  • Design agencies and engineering

Out of scope

  • Designing new processes for transfer
  • Service improvement

Healthcare Challenge

Providing discretion for those who have passed.

Products and services which...

Will allow a discreet transfer of deceased people which negates the anxiety that is typically associated with death.

Products and services which:

  • Make the transfer of deceased people invisible to other users.
  • Provide dignity to deceased people during their last transfer.
  • Relief staff and visitors from the stress and anxiety created by transfers to mortuary.

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