Hospital give man funeral without telling family he'd died

Michael Holder's ashes were scattered at a pauper's funeral

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Hospital cremate man without telling family he'd died

A hospital gave a man a pauper's funeral with no mourners - not even telling his own family that he had died.

Michael Holder's ashes were scattered without anyone knowing after he passed away at Hull Royal Infirmary following multiple seizures.

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The hospital has now apologised to the 44-year-old's family after they were not informed about his death for six weeks.

Michael Holder died on August 19, reports the Hull Daily Mail .

As well as suffering seizures, put down to alcoholic liver disease and epilepsy, Michael had emphysema.

Michael, known as Mike to his family, was a familiar face to many people in the Beverley Road and Newland Avenue areas of Hull, East Yorkshire.

Credits: Hull Daily Mail/MEN Media

It was six weeks before Michael's family was told that he'd passed away

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Most of his life was spent living on the streets, but he still stayed in close contact with his family, including sister Kerrie, his uncle, Brian, his aunts and father.

Just the day before he died, Mike had spoken to his sister on the phone - like he did most days - and told her he loved her.

Six weeks later, Mike's uncle was enjoying a drink with his wife Stacey Harley when he was approached by a friend who said he was "sorry to hear about Mike".

After asking the hospital if they'd seen Mike, and getting nowhere, Stacey took to social media.

Stacey said: "Then on Friday [October 20], I got a message saying Mike had passed away six weeks ago.

"We couldn't believe no one had told us. Even when Mike was causing trouble or found drunk in the street, the police would always bring him to our house, so they knew where we lived."

Kerrie said: "I called the hospital to find out, as he was often referred to the acute assessment centre and they said to call the next day when a senior nurse was in.

"I called the next day and she asked to call the day after when she had her paperwork together. I just wanted to know whether he was alive or not.

Credits: Hull Daily Mail/MEN Media

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"Luckily, the next time I called a nurse told me she'd treated him and he had died."

Kerrie is unable to comprehend how weeks went by without anyone getting in contact with her to tell her of her brother's death.

Kerrie said: "The hospital said they couldn't find his next of kin and it was passed over to the council who organised a state funeral and scattered his ashes at Chanterlands Avenue Crematorium.

"But I was his next of kin. He carried lots of bits of paper around with my number on them and hid them in his socks and his coat so he wouldn't lose it and would always have my number."

Mike had been referred to the acute assessment area of the hospital 178 times in the past two years.

Kerrie said: "I was his next of kin and the hospital had called me lots of times to let me know he was poorly or to track him down for appointments.

"Someone told us it must not have been transferred to the database from his paperwork.

"We went to the council who said they had checked with ancestry and looked at his last known two addresses and couldn't find anyone so did a state funeral. His last known address is his uncle Brian's and he still gets post there."

State funerals are arranged by the city council when someone dies penniless without any relatives to meet the cost of a burial or cremation.

Credits: Hull Daily Mail/MEN Media

Michael, pictured with his sister, Kerrie, who was his next of kin and emergency contact at the hospital

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The no-frills service includes a basic lined wooden coffin, a shroud to dress the deceased and transport by hearse.

However, there are no flowers and no minister of religion or celebrant present. Instead, a member of the council's bereavement team reads a short prayer.

Kerrie said: "He's been scattered in a place I wouldn't put him, at the sunken garden on Chanterlands Avenue.

"I don't think anyone tried hard enough to look for us. We feel let down. Just because he was homeless doesn't mean he didn't have people who cared for him. He was just happy with his way of life."

Kerrie has been told by hospital officials that Michael had no belongings for her to keep.

Kerrie said: "I asked if there was anything I should pick up and they said no. He must have gone in his clothes but he had a watch and a walking stick.

"We feel so let down. I took some flowers to the bench where we used to meet and I had a think. The next day I went back and they'd gone. Everything has been taken away from him."

Kerrie is organising a celebration of Mike's life, which will take place on Thursday, November 2, at 12.30pm at the large chapel at Chanterlands Crematorium, with drinks and food to follow after.

A spokeswoman for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family of Mr Holder for their loss.

"Staff have already been in contact with members of Mr Holder's family about this matter, who have been advised to contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service so that it can be investigated in more detail.

"We understand this is a difficult time for Mr Holder's family, and we are keen to do what we can to provide answers for them."

A spokeswoman for Hull City Council said: "We are now working with the family members to arrange a fitting service of celebration of life.

"The council only steps in to arrange a welfare funeral if nobody comes forward as next of kin or instructed to do so by the Hospital Trust in order to make the necessary arrangements for the deceased.

"As part of this standard practice, a dignified funeral is arranged and takes place at the Chanterlands Crematorium in Hull and the ashes are then scattered sensitively on a lawn within the Crematorium grounds."


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