The Sunday Telegraph

Report said my mother had healthy gallbladde­r, but she didn’t have one


When Alistair House read the report into his mother’s death, there was a rising sense of panic – had they cremated someone else’s body? The pathologis­t described a gallbladde­r that he knew his mother, Ann, had had removed. What he did not know was that the report had been carried out by Dr Michael Heath, who had been discredite­d more than two decades earlier. Mr House had originally called Surrey coroner’s court about his mother’s death in August last year because he had concerns about her care and believed her death had been caused by neglect. “When we finally got the report I started to go through it with you know with a fine-tooth comb. That’s when I started to spot inaccuraci­es,” he said. It was a consultant who had performed surgery on Mrs House, a retired social worker, who first questioned whether it was the right body. “No one could give us an accurate answer we had to wait another six weeks to get any sort of clarificat­ion,” Mr House said. He believes that it was the “flawed, inaccurate piece of work” that prompted the assistant coroner to close the inquiry into his mother’s death and any neglect she had suffered in hospital. He said Dr Heath should have been banned from practising decades ago. “I don’t know whether the GMC took the approach that he’s dealing with the deceased [so] he is not really causing any harm, but he’s causing upset to the families,” he said.

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