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Mortuary set to be closed at Burnley General Hospital
CONTROVERSIAL plans to close, and demolish, a mortuary at Burnley General Hospital look set to go ahead next year.
According to East Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor, hospital bosses have ‘no intention’ of retaining the mortuary, and want the service to be centralised at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.
The Lancashire Telegraph revealed the proposals in April, as critics said it would ‘not be good enough’ for relatives of loved ones who die in Burnley to have to travel to Blackburn to view the body.
In a letter to community groups, and other stakeholders, Mr Taylor wrote: “My main concern is for bereaved families. I am concerned about possible delays and the considerable inconvenience to which bereaved families would be put to at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.”
He also noted that he received reassurances from East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) in 2007 that there ‘has never been any intention to transfer the mortuary facility to Blackburn.
There is clearly a need to retain a mortuary service at Burnley to accommodate both deaths occurring within the community and also Burnley General Hospital deaths’.
The mortuary provides storage facilities for those who have died in hospital, and those under the jurisdiction of the coroner. It is ultimately the responsibility of Lancashire County Council, which commissions the service from the hospital.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle and Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, have also spoken out against the changes.
Steve Lloyd, the registration and coroners’ support manager, said: “We are talking to our colleagues in the police, the coroners’ service and East Lancashire Health Trust about the best way to provide mortuary and pathology services in the Burnley area in the future.
"This is a complex issue and no decisions will be made until we’ve looked at all of the options open to us.”
ELHT was unable to provide a comment as the Lancashire Telegraph went to press.
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