Bodies being held at temporary site because hospital mortuaries are overwhelmed

Hospitals are under rising pressure as death rates hit records (Image: PA)

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Bodies are being stored at a temporary facility in Surrey after the county's hospital mortuaries reached capacity amid rising Covid-19 case rates.

Around 170 bodies are being kept at the site in Leatherhead, which first opened in April to alleviate pressure during the first wave of the pandemic.

The pressure at the temporary mortuary at Headley Court comes as record-high deaths and infection rates are being recorded across England, pressuring the government to step up its vaccinations drive.

More than half of those kept at the facility died with coronavirus, a Surrey Local Resilience Forum spokesman said.

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The temporary mortuary is based at Headley Court
(Image: Surrey Advertiser)

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The county's hospital mortuaries have the capacity to store 600 bodies but are currently full, while the temporary facility has room for 800.

The Surrey Local Resilience Forum spokesman said the county would be left in "real difficulty" if the 1,400 capacity is exceeded in the coming weeks.

He said: "To put some perspective on this, during the first wave, they had 700 bodies go through that (temporary) facility.

"The first wave lasted approximately 12 weeks from mid-March to mid-May.

A nurse tends to a patient in the Emergency Department at St George's Hospital, Tooting
(Image: PA)

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"Since December 21, after just two-and-a-half weeks, they have had 300 bodies go through it."

The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital has reached a record high in England, while the official coronavirus death toll for the UK passed 80,000 at the weekend and lab-confirmed cases hit more than three million.

As of Sunday, a further 563 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the UK total to 81,431.

Separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 97,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

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East Surrey Hospital in Redhill is among ten hospitals in England currently classed by NHS updates as being at full stretch.

According to the Health Service Journal, the hospital is one of ten in the South East and Midlands currently at level 'Critcon 3.'

NHS and ambulance services have warned the pressures on hospitals are becoming severe as deaths and infection rates hit record highs.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday said "the pressure on the NHS is very, very bad" as a result of coronavirus.

He told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: "The single biggest thing that anybody can do is to follow the stay at home guidance."

A mass vaccination centre in Surrey was among seven 'super hubs' launched across England today.

The site, based at the Epsom Racecourse, opened its doors this morning.

Over-80s are being invited first to book spots to get their jabs.

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