London

Payout to sister for 'distress' after lost records lead to Lambeth cremation

King's College Hospita; Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The trust overseeing the hospital where Mr C died and Lambeth Council were both criticised by the NHS watchdog

A man who died in King's College Hospital was cremated without his family being informed of his death after Lambeth Council lost his records.

The Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman found the hospital trust and Lambeth Council had failed to share information about "Mr C"'s next-of-kin in time for them to attend his funeral.

The Ombudsman said this had caused Mr C's sister "shock and distress".

The council and trust have apologised, paying out £650 for distress caused.

The Ombudsman found "a series of errors" were made by the trust and the council, including the council's loss of an envelope containing documents relating to Mr C's financial affairs, letters between him and his family, and the key to his property.

The envelope was found behind a cabinet at council premises after Mr C's sister, Mrs B, independently learned of her brother's death through his GP and contacted the trust.

The Ombudsman concluded these oversights denied his family the chance to go to the funeral.

'Anguish and distress'

Following the Ombudsman's investigation, the trust and council apologised to Mrs B and paid her £650 in recognition of the distress caused and for the loss of opportunity to attend her brother's funeral.

She received a further £374 to cover the two months when bills were unnecessarily paid by his estate.

Details of the case were made public as part of a wider report on complaints about the NHS.

Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: "We are seeing far too many cases where grieving families are not being given answers when they complain to the NHS, forcing them to endure more anguish and distress."

The report contains basic details of 40 case studies among the 544 investigations of unresolved complaints the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman finished investigating in April and May 2015.

A Lambeth Council spokesman said Mr C's case involved "a very unfortunate set of circumstances" and the council had since reviewed its processes "to ensure such a situation could not be repeated".

A spokeswoman for King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said it had also reviewed its practices.

The spokeswoman added: "We would like to apologise wholeheartedly once again to the family involved in this case."

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