A SINGLE mortuary for the whole of Dorset will be a ‘horrendous’ burden on families living in the west of the county, opponents have said.

As reported in the Echo, Dorset County Council has terminated the contract with Dorset County Hospital to provide mortuary services in favour of creating a single facility in Boscombe to serve Dorset.

The move, part of a merger of coroners services, is expected to save £50,000 a year.

Simon Bowkett the Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for South Dorset, said: “I do have sympathy with local authorities, which are being asked to save eye-watering amounts of money.

“Over the last three years councils have been able to make necessary savings almost invisibly, by voluntary redundancies and early retirements.

“Having to travel to Boscombe to see their loved ones or identify their bodies, that is going to be a horrendous experience for people.”

A hospital source said: “A lot of people do visit the mortuary to see their loved ones for a final time.

“It’s not at all clinical, there’s a special viewing room and it does really help people.

“It could be a week later if they had to wait to go to the funeral home, and that week is going to feel like a lifetime.

“It is these services that are seen as expendable.”

The source added: “Someone whose relative has died traumatically is already going to be in a highly emotional state.

“They should not have the added stress of travelling from the north or west of the county to Boscombe.”

Former chairman of the Dorset Police Federation Clive Chamberlain said there could be a ‘knock on’ effect on police services.

He said: “If a police officer deals with someone who is killed in a road traffic accident for example, in order to provide continuity of evidence for the coroner, he has to be able to say that the body that left the scene is the same one that arrived at the mortuary.

“This will mean officers having to travel huge distances.”

West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin said: “As my own father died recently in Dorset County Hospital, I am very aware of the excellent mortuary services that they have been providing – and I shall want to be sure that any new arrangements will deliver the same, excellent level of service.”