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Mortuary switch to Boscombe “will hit grieving north Dorset families”

By Dadcock  |  Posted: March 27, 2014

By Dee Adcock

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A mortuary

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County council plans to switch mortuary services to Boscombe will hit grieving North Dorset families, warns a woman who wants to keep a facility in Dorchester open.

She claims the loss of the mortuary at Dorset County Hospital will push up the cost of funerals.

And people will face travel expense and delays when arranging to see their loved ones after death.

The change would affect cases where a post mortem is necessary.

The woman, who does not want to be named, lives in a village in north Dorset.

She said: “Dorset County Council says it will save £50,000 a year by ending its contract with Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester and moving to Boscombe.

“But it is a terrible location to get to - such a long way for people from north Dorset and the traffic and transport problems would make it worse for anyone who has just been bereaved.

“It would have a huge impact on families.

“At the moment, people can see their loved ones out of hours at the hospital in Dorchester but the Boscombe mortuary won’t offer that.

“Families could have to wait until their loved one is brought back by funeral directors. That’s an additional expense that will push up the price of a funeral.”

She added: “I would like to see pressure put on the county council to think again about this move.

“A huge area of Dorset would be affected - think of the distance from Gillingham and Shaftesbury and from across west Dorset.

“But people don’t like to think about death and don’t realise the impact this would have.”

A spokesperson for Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have been given notice by Dorset County Council that they are terminating their agreement with us for the provision of mortuary services.

“The county council has been working with Bournemouth Borough Council and the Borough of Poole to establish a local authority partnership for the provision of both the coroner’s service in Dorset and mortuary provision.

“That joint working has now reached a stage where they are ready to proceed with the partnership and we have been given three months’ notice of termination of our arrangement.

“The council has made it clear that their decision to terminate the arrangement does not reflect any dissatisfaction with the quality of service provided by Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

“It is simply that there is a need to work more effectively and to achieve savings by working with the other local authorities with a shared responsibility for the coroner’s service in Dorset.

“We are currently looking at what this change will mean for the Trust.”

Dorset County Council's head of legal and democratic services Jonathan Mair said: "Dorset County Council is responsible for the Coroner's Service in Dorset and for the provision of mortuary facilities where an unexplained death gives rise to the need for a post mortem to be carried out.

"As part of merging the East and West Dorset Coroners' areas into one for the whole county, we are working in partnership with Bournemouth Borough Council and the Borough of Poole to use one purpose-built mortuary owned and run by Bournemouth Borough Council.

The new arrangement comes into effect in June.

Dee Adcock

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