In a nondescript grey box of a building on an industrial estate in Sheffield, a medical revolution is in progress.“Things have been done the same way for hundreds of years. We want to change it. We think it could change the world,” says Ash Kovind, the man in charge.

Mr Kovind is the vice- president of a company called iGene. A year ago, it opened the UK’s first centre for digital autopsy – post-mortems carried out with a scanner, not a scalpel.

His motivation is simple: given a choice, he believes, nearly everyone with a family member requiring a post-mortem would opt for a scan over an invasive procedure that can, in some cases, leave a person’s remains horribly scarred.

The goal, he says, is to make physical post-mortems – 94,000 of which took place in England and Wales last year – “the old-fashioned way of doing things”.

“I think this has to be available to everyone in this country and if it isn’t then the families aren’t getting a choice and we’re not caring for them as we should do,” says Kovind.

So far only a few hundred people have taken up the offer – but a major milestone was reached in November when Sandwell Council on the outskirts of Birmingham became the first local authority to offer the service to their citizens free of charge. Other areas offer the service, including Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield, but individuals must pay the £600 charge themselves.

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