Healthcare trust closes mortuary at the infirmary
The mortuary at Berwick Infirmary has been closed because it was not up to the required standard.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust has instead put an arrangement in place for bodies to be taken to Coop Funeralcare in Tweedmouth, although it has limited capacity there.
However, the decision has not gone down well with other funeral directors who believe the Co-op has been presented with an unfair commercial advantage.
The concern is that families, at a time of angst, are more likely to use Co-op Funderalcare for the funeral arrangements.
Malcolm Mace of Berwick-based Chales Mace & Sons, said: “I know it might sound like sour grapes on my part but I don’t think the decision is fair.
“There was no consultation and no other funeral directors were asked to tender. We weren’t even informed that the mortuary was closing.
“The health trust has simply wheeled out the programme it has in other parts of the county.”
Sign up to our daily newsletter
The i newsletter cut through the noise
He has complained to the National Association of Funeral Directors and written to Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
He also intends to take it up with the chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare.
Annaluisa Wood, matron for Berwick Infirmary, said: “We would like to make it clear that families are under no obligation to use this supplier for their loved ones’ funeral arrangements.”
She added: “Providing the highest quality environment for our patients in our hospitals – while they are staying on our wards and in the event that they pass away in our care – is always our number one priority. Our body store facilities at Berwick Infirmary were no longer of the high standards we would want for our patients to maintain their dignity to the end, or for their families at what is an extremely distressing time.
“In light of this, we are working with an external supplier who already provides this service for us at our community hospitals in Rothbury, Morpeth and Haltwhistle where this has worked very well for a number of years.”