Delays in releasing bodies for funerals are causing extra distress to grieving families in the Mansfield and Ashfield area, it has been claimed.
Families are having to wait up to a month to bury or cremate their loved ones, say funeral directors.
“They feel helpless,” said Matthew Lymn-Rose, a director of A.W. Lymn, which has branches across the county, including Mansfield, Sutton, Mansfield Woodhouse, Ollerton, Shirebrook, Hucknall and Bulwell.
“Part of the grieving process is arranging a funeral, so to have that put on hold is very difficult emotionally.”
Three reasons have combined to cause the delays and backlog of bodies. These are an increase in the number of deaths, changes in procedures at the coroner’s office and a shortage of crematoria.
“The surge in death rates increases the delay because more funerals need arranging,” said Mr Lymn-Rose. “We conducted more funerals last month than in any January for the last ten years.
“The process in the coroner’s office in Nottingham is a lot slower than previously, so people are waiting longer to get the clearance they need to organise a funeral.
“Also, we’re still under-served in terms of crematoria. We have the one at Mansfield. but those at Bramcote and Wilford Hill are in the top-20 busiest in the country.”
With the amount of time between death and funeral rising, bodies are spending longer at hospital mortuaries, increasing the pressure on the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham. To help alleviate the problem, Lymn’s has even built its own temporary mortuary at its head office.
“But a lot of families feel they are in hiatus when their loved ones are in the QMC or at the funeral director’s,” added Mr Lymn-Rose.
Eric Townroe, of the Warsop-based funeral director’s, G.A.Townroe and Son, wondered if another reason behind the delays was that postmortems were now only carried out at the QMC and not at other hospitals such as King’s Mill in Sutton.
“It’s the relatives you have to feel sorry for because they cannot get closure,” said Mr Townroe. “Some find the delays distressing.”