A DEVASTATED family is furious after being told their mum had died in hospital – when in fact she was still alive.
Horrified Sonia Roberts, says she was informed by staff at the Royal Blackburn Hospital that Alice Roberts had died after being treated following a fall at her home in Dowry Street, Accrington.
But the 89-year-old pensioner, who had cut her head open in the New Year’s Day fall, was alive and well after being moved to a different ward.
This week, stunned daughter-in-law Sonia, 64, said: "I just couldn’t understand how she could be dead. I had been to visit her the night before and she was doing well. The doctor said she would be fine and was just keeping her in hospital to be safe.
"When I called the next morning something just didn’t feel right. I asked them to check and she confirmed that my mother-in-law had died.
"My husband was mortified. He phoned work to say he wouldn’t be in and we were both just shell-shocked."
While the distraught couple tried to take in the news, Sonia decided to try calling another ward that had been earmarked for gran-of-four Alice.
Sonia said: "I phoned the new ward and explained what I had been told and they were very angry.
"They said they had had a woman fitting Alice’s description brought on to the ward.
"I was so relieved but I still needed to see her with my own eyes. I phoned the original ward who said they apologised for any mistake but they were just reading what was on the system."
Sonia and her husband, Geoffrey, 61, of Surrey Street, Accrington, went to see Alice later that evening.
Geoffrey said: "I was so shocked when I thought she had died, it was awful. I phoned my son and was all set to phone a funeral director."
To make matters worse Alice’s social worker Susan Standworth was also told she had died, as had Sarah Singleton, care manager at Crossroads Care Attendant Scheme which cares for Alice, who has six great-grandchildren.
Mrs Singleton said: "It beggars belief that this sort of mistake can be made. It has been awful for the family who have been left very upset."
Sonia added: "This is an awful thing to go through, especially when we haven’t even had an apology."
A spokesman for the hospital confirmed an inquiry had been launched.
Lynn Wissett, director of Clinical Care and Governance for EL Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "While we are unable to comment on individual patients, we would not intentionally cause distress or confusion to relatives.
"We have not been spoken to directly by the family but would urge them to contact us and we would be happy to discuss any issues with them."
Yesterday Mr and Mrs Roberts confirmed they intend to submit a formal complaint.