Mums body left in freezer for six weeks after staff forgot about her

The body of a mum-of-four was left in a hospital morgue freezer for six weeks after a flagship hospital in Scotland "forgot about her".

Charlene McGregor, 41, was taken to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow for treatment of a cyst behind her ear but the mum was found dead in her hospital bed at 6am on March 12.

Her heartbroken family are desperately searching for answers after her post-mortem examination came back as inconclusive because she had been left in the freezer for so long.

It was later found out that she had died of a methadone overdose after police ordered toxicology tests, but her family remain puzzled as to how this happened.

Her brother William said the mum of four was a drug user and was on a methadone programme, reports the Daily Record.

He said: “She didn’t have the best life but had been going with the same guy for 10 years and was beginning to turn her life around.

“We didn’t have much to do with her because of her drug issues but she was on a methadone programme and her prescription had been reduced. She genuinely seemed to want to take steps away from drugs.

“But she shouldn’t have died the way she did and we still don’t know why it happened.

“The night before she passed away she had been asking the nurses to give her anything to help her sleep. That was at about 2am. By 6am, she was dead.”

William from Drumoyne, in Glasgow’s south side, added: “She was obviously given methadone in the early hours because it was a very quick death.”

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The family knew they would have to wait a bit longer than normal for post-mortem results but when they had heard nothing after six weeks, they contacted the hospital.

William said: “The hospital then contacted the family and said they needed to conduct an emergency family meeting.

“My partner and my mum went to it and were told, ‘We can’t apologise enough’ that she was still in the mortuary and hadn’t been sent for a post-mortem.

“They said they forgot about her. Right away, the alarm bells started.

“They said because she had been lying there in a freezer for six weeks the post-mortem could come back inconclusive. And that’s exactly what happened.

“I can’t help wondering if we hadn’t contacted them would my sister still be lying there?

“And did they deliberately leave her there for six weeks because they knew someone had made a mistake and if she was in the freezer that long a post-mortem wouldn’t find it?

“I think they thought because my sister was a junkie the family wouldn’t take things further. But she didn’t deserve that.”

It took two months before the family were able to have a funeral because of the post-mortem delay and waiting for toxicology reports.

William added: “When toxicology came back, it said the cause of death was methadone overdose.

“We were told the level of methadone in her system would have killed anyone. But where did she get it? Did someone prescribe too much by mistake? We want answers but no-one is giving us any.”

Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie called for a “full investigation” and demanded an inquiry into how Charlene overdosed while under hospital care.

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NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde told the Daily Star that a Significant Adverse Event Review (SAER) is currently underway into the circumstances of Charlene’s death.

A spokesperson said: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Ms McGregor as they continue to mourn her death.

"We met earlier this year with her family to apologise for the delay in the Post Mortem Examination taking place and issues around her death registration.

"We will contact the family when the SAER is concluded and offer to meet with them to explain its findings."

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