Temporary mortuary to open at former RAF base

Temporary mortuary to open at former RAF base

Published by KLFM
3:10pm 14th April 2020.

As Norfolk steps up its vital preparations for the predicted peak of the Coronavirus pandemic a temporary mortuary is due to be set up at the former RAF Coltishall base north east of Norwich.

It is anticipated that use of the short-term mortuary will be underway within the next week at the 600-acre Scottow Enterprise Park site in the village of Badersfield.

The plans come following the Government's health and scientific experts confirming that the virus will very sadly lead to an increase in the number of people dying in the coming weeks before cases begin to fall.

Andrew Proctor, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said: 

"These are such difficult times for so many people in Norfolk and sadly we know that more people will lose loved ones in the days and weeks ahead from this dreadful virus. Setting up a temporary mortuary isn't something that we ever wanted to have to do but it has become an essential part of our work in restricting its spread, mirroring what's been done elsewhere in the country. Doing this will mean that we can treat those who have died with the dignity and respect they deserve in these exceptional circumstances for us all.

"I would also like to add it's never been more important that we all follow the guidance on only going out for essential reasons, we keep our distance to stay safe and well to support the vital work being done by the NHS and all the people working in the front line of social care."

During this difficult period there will be additional pressures on mortuaries, undertakers and crematoria. It is therefore important the council plans for and provides additional capacity to help make sure the county's hospitals have enough space in their mortuaries and to ensure we can provide the most respectful and dignified way to look after both those who have died and their families. Mortuary facilities at Norfolk's hospitals have also been expanded.

Dr Louise Smith, Director of Public Health Norfolk, said: 

"We should feel confident that the efforts we are all making to stay at home, protect our NHS, and save lives are contributing to the national effort to increase our capacity to treat those most vulnerable to this virus and prevent as many deaths as possible.

"But we've never hidden from the sad reality that, although most of us are going to pull through this, some people will die from Coronavirus. And the hard fact is that we need to plan for an increase in deaths in the county and provide the appropriate space to make practical and dignified arrangements for this."

The site has been chosen because it is a safe and secure location positioned discreetly away from public view with sufficient space for specialist portable buildings to be housed undercover in a former aircraft hangar. The mortuary will be staffed, with security in place at all times when it is closed. All Public Health advice on how to safely look after patients who have passed away is being followed and there is no health risk to local people. Mortuaries are normally only used for the relatively brief period of time between a person's death and the arrangement of their funeral.

Arrangements have been made so that vehicles visiting the site will use on an entrance off Scottow Road so they do not have to travel through the village.

Letters have been sent to residents in the local area, to let them know what is happening.

Nigel Dixon, County Councillor for Hoveton and Stalham division, said:

"I fully understand the need to provide this temporary mortuary. This might be difficult news for those living near the Enterprise Park but I hope they understand that these are challenging times and Scottow will be playing an essential role in making sure that those who sadly die will receive the dignity and respect they deserve."

Anyone with questions can email Norfolk County Council at mpcg@norfolk.gov.uk contact or call  0344 800 8020.