Bereaved families facing funerals backlog as Sheffield hit by crematorium closure

Sheffield is facing a funerals backlog – with bereaved families facing longer waits for cremations in the city.

Thursday, 20th January 2022, 10:25 am

The high winter death rates have combined with problems at one of the city’s main crematoriums to leave families having to wait up to two weeks longer than normal for services.

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Sheffield currently has a higher than average death rate, and winter traditionally brings higher death rates than the rest of the year.

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Sheffield is facing a funerals backlog – with bereaved families facing long waits for cremations in the city. Picture shows City Road Cemetery

In the 2020 to 2021 winter period (December 2020 to March 2021), 63,000 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales, driven by the large number of deaths involving coronavirus. The excess winter mortality index in 2020 to 2021 showed that 36.5 per cent more deaths occurred in the winter months compared with the non-winter months in England.

But Sheffield is facing extra pressure because City Road Crematorium is currently out of action for major repairs.

Alison Teal, executive member for sustainable neighbourhoods, wellbeing, parks and leisure said: “While it is one of the busiest times of the year, burials within the city are taking place as normal.

“We currently have a slightly higher than average death rate which means the most popular funeral times are harder to get but there is still capacity and there is nothing out of the ordinary to report.”

She added: “However, waiting times for cremation services are longer than normal.

“The council owns two crematoria – Hutcliffe Wood and City Road. City Road Crematorium is currently closed for cremator replacement. Due to the age of the building at City Road Crematorium, other structural work has been required at the same time as replacing the cremators and therefore is planned to be closed for a few more months.

“This closure has resulted in a longer than normal wait time at Hutcliffe Wood and services appear to be booking up one to two weeks further in advance than normal with the more popular service times are booking up furthest in advance.

“We have already increased the number of services available and hope to be able to offer a few more services per day by March.”