Temporary mortuaries ‘likely’ to be needed at Suffolk hospitals during coronavirus outbreak

Health bosses have said it is 'likely' temporary mortuaries will be needed at Ipswich Hospital Pictu

Health bosses have said it is 'likely' temporary mortuaries will be needed at Ipswich Hospital Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Temporary mortuary space is ‘likely’ to be needed at hospitals in Suffolk to deal with the number of coronavirus deaths.

One of Suffolk’s leading medical officers has warned that due to the number of deaths due to covid-19 in the region, mortuaries in Suffolk could reach capacity and so plans are being developed to increase space at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.

Currently over 80 people have died after testing positive for covid-19 at Suffolk hospitals and one care leader thinks that the total could be 20% higher if all deaths at care homes were included in government figures.

Officials have begun plans to expand mortuaries internally as well as utilising a government scheme set up to provide ‘modular mortuary units’ - Portakabin-like buildings which will provide extra space at morgues across the UK.

There are not any current plans to construct an off-site temporary mortuary like in Norfolk where an ex-RAF base will be transformed into a short-term centre.

Dr Angela Tillett, Chief Medical Officer for East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which runs Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, said: “We know, sadly, that additional mortuary space is likely to be needed at ESNEFT as we prepare for an increase in deaths related to Coronavirus.

“Teams across the Trust have been working closely together, and with colleagues in the funeral services, on our plans to construct additional mortuary facilities at both Colchester and Ipswich hospitals.

“We will do all we can to make sure anyone who dies at our hospitals is treated with the utmost dignity and respect, and that we support bereaved families too.”

Despite cases of covid-19 appearing to plateau in the UK, the government confirmed yesterday that social distancing measures will continue for at least another three weeks.

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However, deaths lag behind the number of cases and so may still rise and once at their peak, are expected to plateau for a number of days.

Yesterday it was announced that a total of 13,729 people had lost their lives in hospitals across the UK after contracting coronavirus.

More than 100,000 people have now tested positive for the virus nationally.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “As part of their national programme to support the need for related facilities, the Government has the capability to provide a number of modular mortuary units in the Suffolk area to increase capacity, if this is required.”

West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust did not wish to add further comment.

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