Northampton mother told disabled daughter 'died' by council

Rosemary and Daisy Mulcahy Image copyright Rosemary Mulcahy
Image caption Daisy Mulcahy [left] receives respite care from Northamptonshire County Council

A woman was told her daughter had died, despite being "very much alive", in an email sent in error by a council.

Rosemary Mulcahy, from Northampton, was "devastated" to get the email from the county council offering "sincere condolences" for the loss of her daughter, who she was with at the time.

Daisy Mulcahy, 21, has severe learning difficulties and receives respite care from the council.

The authority has since apologised "for any distress that had been caused".

Mrs Mulcahy, 59, said when she received the email her daughter asked: "Mummy, why are you crying?".

Northamptonshire County Council sent the letter, headed "Deceased Customer Statement", to Mrs Mulcahy on Monday evening.

It stated: "We have received notification that the above named client recently passed away. Please accept my sincere condolences for your loss at what must be a very difficult time."

The email also requested payment for care which Daisy had not received.

Image copyright Rosemary Mulcahy

"I was absolutely devastated to have been told that my daughter had died but she's very much alive," said Mrs Mulcahy, who then contacted the council's complaints team.

The following day she received a follow-up apology email which said that "statements were produced in error and wrongly issued to some customers where the client has not in fact passed away".

She said that she wanted "someone to phone me and explain to me why this has happened rather than just receive some bog-standard email apologising".

The letter followed a "very stressful" eight months, during which Mrs Mulcahy said the council had sent notifications charging for daycare services which her daughter did not receive.

Mrs Mulcahy said the council had asked for £700 in its most recent bill.

She and a social worker had told the council about the problem, but the notifications continued coming.

"Things are stressful enough as it is without this added stress, it's been a nightmare," she added.

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A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said any charges for daycare had been removed and that the family would no longer receive these notifications in error.

Regarding the email received on Monday, he said: "Some client statements were sent in error and as soon as the mistake was realised a follow-up communication was sent immediately to all the recipients, clarifying the situation and apologising for any distress that had been caused.

"An investigation is underway to establish how this happened so that necessary action can be taken to avoid this occurring again."

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