Trust sorry for MEP cremation error
An NHS trust has issued an apology after a mix-up led to the wrong body being cremated at the funeral of a Conservative MEP.
The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust has launched an investigation into the blunder, which forced the family of Euro MP Philip Bradbourn to undergo the distress of attending two funerals.
The BBC reported that the body of a man with an almost identical name to the MEP was released to undertakers after the politician's death at Sutton Coldfield's Good Hope Hospital in December.
An initial funeral and cremation was held for the MEP at Bushbury Crematorium in Wolverhampton on January 16, but next-of-kin were then informed of the mistake and a second funeral had to be held on February 23.
Alastair Little, the MEP's long-serving chief of staff, told the BBC that the family felt a "sense of anger and disbelief" and the error had "intensified their grief".
In a statement, the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Good Hope Hospital, said: "The trust can confirm that it is carrying out a full investigation into a recent incident, involving two people with similar names, as a result of which the wrong deceased patient was cremated.
"Services have been held for both of the deceased."
Dr Andrew Catto, the trust's executive medical director and interim deputy chief executive, said: "This is an incredibly distressing situation and we are very sorry that this has happened.
"We are carrying out a full and urgent investigation between all the parties involved.
"This is a rare incident and we are offering support to those close to the deceased.
"Once the trust became aware, it acted immediately. We are committed to finding out precisely what happened and reducing the possibility of it happening again."
Dr Catto added that the error had occurred "in spite of the fact that mortuary procedures conform to nationally defined standards and are subject to periodic audit".
It is understood the wrong body was released for cremation from a mortuary run by Central England Co-operative Funeralcare.
A spokesman for Central England Co-operative Funeralcare said: "The Society's Funeralcare operation provides services to a number of hospitals within the Birmingham area but it is not our policy to comment on behalf of any of these organisations.
"The society is supporting one of our partners in a full and open investigation but is not able to comment further while the investigation is ongoing."
Mr Bradbourn, who had served as a West Midlands MEP in the European Parliament since 1999, died on December 19 after a battle against cancer.
In the wake of the 63-year-old's death, David Cameron described the MEP's dedication to public service as "truly admirable".
The Prime Minister said: "He was a well-respected and effective MEP. In a political career which spanned over four decades, he showed great passion in serving both the party and his constituents."