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Funeral directors pick up wrong man's body from morgue

William Paterson's body was almost cremated by another family after a mix-up.

The remains of a grandfather were almost cremated by the wrong family following a mix-up at a morgue.

The error took place when two men with the same name were due to be collected by undertakers at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

William Paterson, 56, died from pneumonia following a stroke in November.

When the appointed undertaker David Robb went to collect Mr Paterson's body from the hospital morgue, he found the remains had already been collected by another firm, Co-op Funeralcare.

Another deceased man, also named William Paterson, was still in the hospital's morgue.

Co-op Funeralcare were alerted and the body was then collected by Mr Robb.

The body of the 56-year-old grandfather, who was from Glasgow, had been sealed in a coffin for cremation.

'I kind of broke down in tears. It was really, really upsetting.'
Claire Paterson

Mr Paterson's daughter Claire said the family had been shocked when Mr Robb informed them of the error.

She told STV News: "My initial thought was 'we're too late, he's gone, we won't get to say goodbye'.

"I kind of broke down in tears. It was really, really upsetting."

Both the health board and Co-op Funeralcare have apologised to Mr Paterson's family.

A spokeswoman for the funeral firm said: "As soon as the issue was brought to our attention we acted immediately to resolve it and have since arranged to visit the family to offer our apologies in person.

"Mr Paterson was prepared and in a coffin for a funeral planned to take place the following week.

"Before the funeral, additional identification checks are always carried out by at least two of our colleagues."

She added: "Whilst we accept that errors were made initially, we are confident that the mistake would have been picked up by our funeral director ahead of any funeral taking place.

"We can only apologise to the Paterson family for the distress caused and have since reviewed our robust procedures further, to ensure the correct identification processes are in place to reduce any risk of this happening again."

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "Our normal robust process for transferring deceased patients to an undertaker failed on this occasion.

"It was a genuine error and we would like to apologise for any distress caused.

"As soon as the error was identified we quickly worked with both undertakers and as a result there was no delay to the funeral arrangements."

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