Family’s anger at mortuary mix-up

PUBLISHED: 11:34 01 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:37 06 May 2010

Barry Hoyle

Barry Hoyle

A FAMILY has hit out at a funeral home after viewing the wrong body following a mortuary mix-up. When Mark Hoyle went to see the body of his 60-year-old father Barry at Austin s funeral home in Stevenage, he was presented with the body of a man in his 80s

A FAMILY has hit out at a funeral home after viewing the wrong body following a mortuary mix-up.

When Mark Hoyle went to see the body of his 60-year-old father Barry at Austin's funeral home in Stevenage, he was presented with the body of a man in his 80s.

Barry Hoyle had died at Lister hospital, which has now launched a full investigation into the incident.

The hospital has already said that the identity bands on the bodies were switched some point between the time they arrived in the mortuary and when they were taken to the funeral home.

Mark Hoyle's sister, Jayne McGee, 41, says that although the bodies were tagged at Lister, the family is concerned the error was not picked up by Austin's, especially when staff at the home dressed the body that was thought to be Mr Hoyle's in special clothes, including a Manchester United football shirt.

Mrs McGee also said the body they viewed instead of Mr Hoyle's had two identification tags on it, one which bore the correct name and one which had Mr Hoyle's name on it, which again she feels should have been noticed.

She added: "My dad is 17 stone and this other man was really skinny. My dad is 60 and this other man was 83.

"We just can't believe you could put a massive top on another man and not know something was wrong.

"They [the clothes] must have been way too big.

"We fail to understand how they didn't notice or failed to check both tags.

"We appreciate that it is basically Lister Hospital's fault but we still fail to understand how you can do that to someone who is so different.

"We were obviously really angry because we feel that people should be treated with a bit more respect.

"I think they should doubly make sure that it's the right person. If we hadn't gone to view him we would have cremated the wrong person.

"They need to change the way they ID bodies."

Claire Austin, managing director of Austin's, said the body Mark Hoyle viewed only had one tag on it, and that person was in fact around 14 stone.

She added: "All the staff at Austin's Funeral Service, particularly those involved in the arrangement of Mr Hoyle's funeral, deeply regret the distress and upset which has been caused to the family.

"A full investigation has been carried out by Austin's both internally and in conjunction with the East and North Herts NHS Trust.

"The outcome concludes that the identification bands on the deceased where incorrect when they were collected from the hospital by Austin's staff.

"Therefore, the responsibility for the error lies with the Lister Hospital.

"All funeral directors rely on the integrity of the hospital identification system.

"The age, size and individual characteristics of a deceased person cannot be considered reliable forms of identification."

Nick Carver, chief executive of East and North Herts NHS Trust, which runs Lister, said: "Everyone associated with Mr Hoyle's case, but especially the Trust's mortuary team, have been distressed to learn of what has happened.

"The Trust's director of nursing has spoken personally with his family and apologised for the hurt and upset caused to all concerned, as well as discuss with them the details of the investigation that is now under way."

He added: "We have committed to keep all concerned aware of the investigation's progress and once again apologise for the hurt that this incident has caused and the embarrassment to the funeral director concerned.

"While no comfort to Mr Hoyle's family, we are confident that this is an entirely isolated incident and not the result of lax procedures or policies or complacent staff.

"Rather we know that our mortuary team comprises dedicated and highly trained individuals whose work is of the highest quality.


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