Temporary mortuary being used at former air base

The main entrance to Scottow Enterprise Park at the former RAF Coltishall
site. Picture: Neil Perry

The main entrance to Scottow Enterprise Park at the former RAF Coltishall site. Picture: Neil Perry / Archant - Credit: Archant

A temporary mortuary which was set up - but not required - during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has now been forced into use, it has been confirmed.

In early stages of the pandemic, Norfolk County Council set up the temporary facility in a former air hangar at Scottow to cope with an expected increase in the rate of deaths in the region's hospitals.

Council bosses had always hoped the facility would not be needed and during the first wave of the pandemic, it was not.

However, it has now been confirmed that the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has recently started making use of the facility, in a stark reminder of the severity of the pandemic.

Tom McCabe, head of paid service at Norfolk County Council is leading the local response to the coro

Tom McCabe, head of paid service at Norfolk County Council is leading the local response to the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Tom McCabe, chairman of Norfolk's Covid-19 strategic co-ordination group, said: “This short-term mortuary at the 600-acre Scottow Enterprise Park site in the village of Badersfield, was put in place to ensure that we treat people who have died with the dignity and respect they deserve in these exceptional circumstances for us all.

“It was always anticipated that during challenging periods there would be extra pressures on mortuaries, undertakers and crematoria."

An NNUH spokesman said it had been called into use due to a combination of factors - the Covid-19 pandemic, existing winter pressure and as a temporary measure while new equipment is installed on site.

NNUH chief of division clinical support services Dr Richard Goodwin, said: “Our priority is to always ensure that the deceased are treated with respect and dignity, and therefore we work with our partners to ensure every year we can use additional mortuary space, if needed.”

Mr McCabe added: “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 periods.

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“Anyone whose loved one is moved to the Scottow location will be informed and we can reassure people that we have a dedicated, trained, team of staff who care for those who have died and been taken there. The temporary mortuary also received a blessing from the Bishop of Norwich back in April last year, with him making a prayer of dedication in a special address from his home."

The existing mortuary at the NNUH is also currently in use.

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