Evesham's man anger as mum's possessions are lost after her death at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital - The Evesham Observer

Evesham's man anger as mum's possessions are lost after her death at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital

Evesham Editorial 11th Mar, 2024 Updated: 11th Mar, 2024   0

AN EVESHAM man has hit out at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital after his mum’s most prized possessions were lost or stolen when she passed away.

Ian McGahan’s mother Roberta died at the hospital’s Pathway Discharge Unit just after 5pm on New Year’s Day.

On her at the time were items of jewellery of sentimental value, an eternity ring and wedding band. She also had with her a wooden transistor radio she had brought from home and a blanket and fleece for her bed.

When they were asked, the family said they explicitly told staff her rings and other belongings could go with her when she was picked up by the funeral director.

But, when she arrived at the mortuary, staff there confirmed that no belongings had accompanied her.

Mr McGahan contacted the ward matron who said the ward had been extensively searched and his mum’s belongings were not on the ward.

It was unknown what had happened to the items between her passing and her arriving at the mortuary.

Mr McGahan said he then wrote to the CEO of the trust and cc’d in three Senior Executives regards to his complaints, but he received no reply and was pushed through to the complaints department but was still hopeful the missing items would be found. He was promised a formal letter from the CEO or Senior Executive when the complaint was resolved.

His mum’s funeral came and went on January 26 with the family still waiting for any concrete answers.

This week, Mr McGahan received a letter from the Chief Nursing Officer on behalf of a Directorate Support Manager informing him that ‘despite being told not to, the staff nurse removed the rings and placed them in an envelope in a green property bag alongside the blankets, which she then placed in the storeroom, labelled with Roberta McGahan’s name’.

It was seen by staff the next morning but had gone missing by that afternoon.

Mr McGahan’s letter was accompanied with a claim form which he has been told he can fill out following the loss.

He said: “It’s not about the money – and how can we put a price on those items anyway?

“My mum had worn her wedding ring for the past 66 years and it would have been a great comfort to us to have it to remember her by.

“When someone dies, items of sentimental value, such as jewellery, become more important and poignant than ever.

“We are all in a state of shock and sadness that this has happened – it is the last thing you need at what is such a distressing time.

“With the number of times that people die in hospital, surely there is a procedure or protocol to ensure their belongings are kept safe.

“We just cannot believe this has happened and, equally, the length of time for the trust to tell us what we already knew very early on in this process is shocking. The lack of accountability beggars belief”

Sarah Shingler, Chief Nursing Officer at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “After conducting an extensive search of the unit we have sadly been unable to locate the missing items.

“We are very sorry for the distress this has caused at what is already a difficult time.

“We have written to the family to explain in detail the findings of our internal investigation into the loss of their mother’s property.

“We’d like to once again unreservedly apologise for their experience and we have used this experience to improve our practices and reduce the likelihood of incidents like this happening again in future.”

Questions asked

Anxious to know if others had fallen victim to loss or theft of belongings, Mr McGahan put in a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust which runs the Royal and the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.

It revealed that, with regard to patients’ belongings, in 2021 there were 27 lost and 10 items allegedly stolen. In 2022 there were 40 patient items lost and 30 stolen in 2023.


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