Dead body lay in ward for seven hours
Thursday 14 August 2008
Hospital bosses apologised today after a corpse was left alongside patients in a ward for seven hours.
Shocked visitors and patients were able to see the body of the dead man propped up on pillows.
The corpse was left in the ward to allow a grieving relative to arrive at the hospital in Glasgow.
But Christine Martin today spoke of her distress after seeing the dead body during a visit to her husband David at Stobhill Hospital.
Mrs Martin said the man died at about 11am and his body was not taken away until around 6.15pm.
She told BBC Radio Scotland that curtains were drawn around the dead body.
But she said they "were open sufficiently for me to see this man, whom we had got to know over a period of 10 days, lying dead, face uncovered, propped up on white pillows."
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it had said sorry to Mr Martin and his wife.
The dead man's family had asked that he remain in the ward until a relative could arrive.
A spokeswoman said: "We have acknowledged to the Martins that, beyond this, there was some delay in the transfer of the patient to the mortuary and steps have already been taken to ensure that this does not happen again."
NHS GGC said a single room could not be found for the patient because of the greater need of other patients.
Mrs Martin wrote to Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon who said steps had been taken to tighten the process of removing deceased patients from wards.
Today Ms Sturgeon said the health board in Glasgow had apologised to Mr and Mrs Martin for "shortcomings".
"I think that is the right course of action for them to have taken," Ms Sturgeon told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland.
The wider issue of improving non-clinical aspects of care was a "real priority" for the health service, said Ms Sturgeon.
She said the Stobhill case involved family wishes relating to a deceased patient.
"But notwithstanding all of that, there were shortcomings on the part of NHS Greater Glasgow," said Ms Sturgeon.
The family had requested that the body remain on the ward while a relative travelled by plane from London.
Ms Sturgeon said there was no evidence that the patient was left on the ward because of a shortage of beds or other facilities.
"As I understand it, the wishes of the family in this case were expressly that the patient was not moved from the ward," she said.
The health secretary said a consultation was about to start in Scotland on plans for a Patients Rights Act.
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