The hospital at the centre of the bodies-in-the-chapel row will this week lose its accreditation for histopathology - including mortuary and post-mortem facilities.

And the chair of the organisation that awards accreditation told HSJ that 'more than a third' of 300 labs visited had 'significant problems' relating to their mortuary conditions - 'some of them comparable' to those at Bedford Hospital trust.

Poor conditions in the mortuary at Bedford Hospital trust found during an inspection last November by Clinical Pathology Accreditation (UK) Ltd led to the decision not to renew the four-yearly accreditation, HSJ can reveal.

Dr Ken Scott, chair of CPA's histopathology committee, told HSJ that 'a considerable number' of hospitals have 'very poor mortuaries'. 'About a third' had problems, he added.

He pins the blame for generally deteriorating conditions on a concentration 'within the last four or five years' on 'bed-related specialties and all kinds of initiatives' - with pathology becoming 'under-resourced in many labs'.

'What Bedford needs is a new mortuary and so do many hospitals across the country, ' he added.

He said staff at the hospital were 'doing their level best against a background of under-investment and underfunding'.

The trust's chief executive, Ken Williams, stepped down last week following the publication of photographs showing seven corpses on the floor of an unrefrigerated room. Eastern regional office is completing an inquiry and is due to send a report to health secretary Alan Milburn by the end of the week.

A regional spokesman confirmed that the CPA (UK) findings would be considered as part of its investigation. Copies have also gone to head of histopathology Dr David Rimmer and to chief executive of Papworth Hospital trust Stephen Bridge, who has agreed to join Bedford Hospital from Monday as acting chief executive.

Doctors at the hospital have claimed that money set aside for pathology has been redirected into hitting government targets on waiting lists.

But last week in the Commons, Mr Milburn made it clear that he believed the situation was not caused by lack of funding or by capacity difficulties.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said there was a recognition that mortuaries and pathology needed to be 'modern and updated' and pointed to the£15m pathology modernisation fund in the NHS plan.

See news focus, pages 12-13; comment, page 19.