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Hospitals run out of body bags as mortuaries overflow, union warns

GMB says: ‘Porters are inundated with bodies, which are now wrapped in sheets’

TWO hospitals serving almost half a million people in London and Surrey have run out of body bags as the coronavirus death toll mounts, according to GMB today.

More than 50 people have died from the coronavirus at the Epsom & St Helier University Trust’s two general hospitals.

Porters have told GMB that they are being “traumatised” by having to wrap bodies in sheets, risking being infected themselves.

The union says that staff also report having only flimsy protection wear as they rush around the hospital doing the difficult and highly distressing work of moving ever-increasing numbers of dead patients.

“Porters are inundated with bodies, which are now wrapped in sheets and are being backed up awaiting collection as the mortuary is overflowing,” said the union.

“The porters, who have been waiting months to get an insulting 5p-an-hour pay rise from the trust, are left with just a flimsy plastic apron, disposable gloves and a flimsy mask.

“The scenes they are witnessing daily leave them distressed and anxious and they are increasingly concerned about contracting the virus themselves.  

“They are also worried that safety standards are slipping down in the trust as the death toll mounts.”

GMB organiser Helen O’Connor said: “We are extremely concerned about the psychological and physical wellbeing of our hospital members, who are traumatised and struggling to cope with the impact of this pandemic.

“They are on the front line, doing the type of work that would distress anyone and increasingly dealing with death.

“We call on Epsom & St Helier trust to take urgent measures to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of these key workers during this crisis.”

The trust, which serves a population of more than 490,000 people in south-west London and north-east Surrey, had not responded to requests for specific comment at the time of going to press, but a spokeswoman for the trust said that it was unable to say how many people have died as a result of the coronavirus at the hospitals so far.

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