The methods to find out how people died are about to drastically change in three parts of Greater Manchester

Technology is to be introduced by a coroner which will be able to establish cause of death without dissecting the body. A leading coroner said families who have recently lost a loved one in Bolton, Salford, Wigan will soon benefit from 'digital autopsies', which not only minimise emotional distress, but also accelerate the post-mortem process.

Bolton council, which has responsibility for coronial services in the Manchester West jurisdiction has signed an agreement with Digital Autopsy UK to provide non-invasive post-mortem examinations across the four towns and cities.

The cutting edge digital imaging technology means many post-mortem examinations can be carried out in a computerised environment by digital tools, rather than by a scalpel.

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The company said the approach allows for a quicker resolution of cases. Following a procurement process, Bolton council has signed a partnership with Digital Autopsy UK and it is anticipated the service will be available from June this year.

A digital autopsy suite will be opened at Royal Bolton Hospital to assist the coroner in establishing causes of death across the Manchester West jurisdiction.

HM senior coroner for Manchester West, Timothy Brennand said: "I am delighted to be the first coroner in Greater Manchester, and one of the first nationally, to have secured a change in provision of service to allow us to rely on non-invasive technologies.

"I am convinced that this service will offer a better, faster and a clinically reliable means for me to obtain the evidence to establish an unequivocal cause of death."

Dr Patrick Waugh, from Royal Bolton Hospital said: "This is a great step forward in this region for the deceased and their families. “This places family concerns and wishes at the centre of coronial investigations.

"I hope this joint venture of the mortuary services provided by Bolton Foundation Trust and the technology of Digital Autopsy will create a centre of excellence in the North West."

Darren Brown, chief executive of Digital Autopsy UK said: “Working in partnership is at the heart of what we do and we are delighted to have secured the support of Bolton Council, the coroner and Bolton NHS Foundation Trust to deliver this service."

The firm already works with 23 local authorities across the country including Lancashire, Sheffield and Sandwell.