A temporary morgue in Nottingham which was to be used in the ‘worst-case scenario’ to store victims of the coronavirus pandemic ended up costing £166,000 more than was anticipated. The facility was to be used in the event of ‘excess deaths’ and to ensure there was enough storage space at the height of the pandemic.
An industrial unit, referred to as ‘Blenheim body storage facility’, in the north of the city had been prepared for use as a temporary morgue for victims of the pandemic back in 2020. A second morgue, in Mansfield, was also opened but later decommissioned after the first wave.
The provision of body storage, on the required scale, had ‘never before been undertaken’. It was estimated the final total of both facilities would have been in the region of £3.2m. In October 2020 the city council agreed to share a cost of £1.1m with the county council.
The Blenheim facility was operational longer than the Mansfield site, remaining open until May last year, and so the council incurred extra costs according to documents. At the time the director of public health at the county, Jonathan Gribbin and then-director for the city, Alison Challenger, said: “We truly hope the important steps currently being taken to limit the spread of the coronavirus will mean fewer people lose their lives but we have to make preparations for what the tragic implications of this dreadful disease could be in the very worst-case scenario.”
They said the facility being provided would be “discreet and professional in its approach.” At the same time hospitals increased the morgue capacity while funeral directors were also expected to have additional capacity ready in the event of the worst-case scenario.
According to the city council it has approved the final payment of £166,000 after it was revealed the overall spend came to £1.305m, above the original approved £1.139m in October 2020. While deaths from Covid in Nottingham city alone are in the region of 1,000 people, it is understood the additional costs were due to an additional two months of rent and utility bills.
A City Council spokesman told Nottinghamshire Live: “The Government required councils to put arrangements in place for the eventuality that excess deaths during the pandemic far exceeded the mortuary capacity at local hospitals. Neither we nor the County Council had existing facilities so it was agreed for a new joint facility to be established.
“Estimates were made on how long the facility would be needed and the utility bills required. These were higher than estimated and an additional two months of rent, rates and insurance was needed at the Blenheim facility to make sure the death management system was able to cope, and to give us time to decommission it. Government provided funding towards these costs, which were accounted for in last year’s budget.”
Written by: thehitnetwork