University grounds used as site for one of three temporary morgues in Sussex

Three temporary morgues are to be installed in Sussex in the coming days to ensure those who die in the Covid-19 pandemic are treated with dignity and respect, a spokesman has confirmed.

Coronavirus update
Coronavirus update

More than 800 additional spaces will be created at the three temporary morgues, as demand is expected to exceed capacity at existing sites in the county.

Four temporary units providing 300 spaces will be arriving today (April 16) on the grounds of the University of Sussex in Falmer, confirmed the Sussex Resilience Forum (SRF).

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This is in addition to storage facilities currently on site, which are managed by Brighton and Sussex Medical School, meaning capacity will increase to 430.

More units procured by the SRF will arrive at Falmer next week to be used if needed, the spokesman said.

The units – which have been supplied by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – will be ‘discreetly situated in a space on the grounds’ and will be ‘shielded from public sight as much as possible to ensure privacy and reduce distress’, the spokesman said.

Units for an additional 230 spaces at Worthing Hospital and 290 at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester are expected to arrive early next week.

The SRF has been coordinating the death management plans working with skilled and experienced coroners, mortuary teams, police, NHS partners, funeral directors and council staff across East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove.

Dave Miller, chairman of the Sussex Resilience Forum said he understood the announcement would be upsetting, but that it was crucial that statutory duties continued to be fulfilled during this period and that reassurance was given to bereaved families, providers of funeral services and partners in the NHS of our capacity to do so.

He said: “I know this is something we don’t want to think about, but like every Local Resilience Forum area in the country, we are dealing with the effects of coronavirus and part of that is to make provision for additional mortuary capacity.

“We continue to hope for the best, but plan for the worst which we know the public would expect us to do.

“Whilst the picture for the worst case scenario changes on a daily basis and will also be determined in part by the success of the lockdown measures in Sussex, we are expecting to deal with a rise in the number of deaths during the peak period that will take us beyond existing resource for this time of year.

“We are therefore putting measures and resources in place urgently to ensure all deaths during this period are dealt with respect and dignity and in accordance with appropriate public health requirements.”

There are no current issues with any of the county’s mortuary capacities, confirmed the spokesman.

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