Some overflow morgues are now in use across England - the areas that require them

Friday, 15th January 2021, 11:24 am
Updated Friday, 15th January 2021, 11:24 am

The UK’s largest temporary morgue is currently preparing to open to help cope with rising coronavirus deaths in London.

Some local hospital mortuaries ran out of space due to a surge in deaths, as the UK has reported record levels of deaths and new Covid infections in the last few weeks. Local temporary mortuaries are now being used to ease the pressure on hospitals.

Where are the temporary morgues located?

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The largest temporary morgue is preparing to open in London. The facility will be able to house up to 1,300 bodies, and is located in Ruislip, north west London.

The site is made up of tented facilities with refrigeration units, and can currently hold 217 bodies. The entire site has cost £3.2 million, but the total is expected to reach £4 million by March.

Since the start of the pandemic, 10,820 deaths have been registered in London where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Another facility located at the former RAF Coltishall base, in northeast Norwich was set up in a former aircraft hanger during the first wave of the pandemic. It is now in use for the first time, to help ease the pressure of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

‘Respectful and dignified’

Tom McCabe, chairman of Norfolk's Covid-19 Strategic Co-ordination Group, said: “It was always anticipated that during challenging periods there would be extra pressures on mortuaries, undertakers and crematoria.

“This temporary mortuary provides additional capacity to help make sure the county's hospitals have enough flexibility of space in their own mortuaries, and to ensure we can provide the most respectful and dignified way to look after both those who have died, and their families, over this difficult period.”

In the south East, in Leatherhead in Surrey, a temporary morgue has been set up at former military hospital Headley Court. The space was set up during the initial outbreak, and can hold up to 845 bodies.

Other locations for emergency morgues are Waterside Industrial Park in Leeds, Salisbury Hospital in Wiltshire, and Aylesford Temporary Place of Rest in Kent.