EXCLUSIVE: A new system of payments for cremation forms at Mayday Hospital is forcing some bereaved families to postpone arrangements for funerals costing thousands of pounds
Bereaved Croydon families are having to delay staging funerals for lost loved ones, following a change of administrative procedure at Mayday Hospital. In some instances, cremations for which all the arrangements have been booked, and with relatives flying in from overseas to pay their last respects, have even been postponed.
Doctors are paid £82 for completing the forms to allow a cremation to take place. There are two forms required, needing the signatures of two doctors – making a total payment of £164. The first part is done by the patient’s doctor, the second by another doctor who has not been directly involved in the deceased’s treatment.
In a hospital the size of Mayday, there always used to be plenty of doctors available to sign the forms.
But a change in the system imposed by the Croydon NHS Trust has slowed down the time it takes to process the paperwork, as the Trust insists that it receives all payments directly, The number of doctors available to perform this brief but legally required documentation has reduced drastically. The Trust’s panel of doctors to do this work is now available only on a limited schedule
This has resulted in upset families having to waiting days on end before their loved ones are released, to be visited in an undertaker’s chapel of rest.
The cost for a cremation (all in – that’s priest fee, doctors and crematorium charges) come to around £4,000, and rising.
According to local funeral directors, all local firms have had grieving families affected by the delays at Mayday, including Rowlands, multiple branches of Co-op Funeralcare, JB Shakespeare, various Dignities, and others.
In one case, a cremation which was supposed to take place at the beginning of June still has not been able to be re-arranged.
“The problem for families is that they have to reschedule everything, from the after-funeral catering, to flights and other arrangements,” according to one funeral director.
“We’ve also had a good number where it has been tight and we’ve scrabbled around while coming under sometimes angry pressure from the family to collect the deceased.”
Executives from the hospital Trust held a meeting over the matter in March but, according to the funeral director, “not a lot has changed”.
The issue has been compounded by restricted hours at the mortuary, where the hospital also houses coroner’s cases.
The hours when undertakers can collect bodies are between 2pm and 3.30pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with additional time on Mondays and Fridays between 9am and 1pm.
While the hospital insists that these times apply only to cororner’s cases, access has been limited and official opening times for hospital death collections have not been circulated.
The issue affects all religions, and families are having to wait longer to hold funerals.
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