Moray family toast success of campaign for better mortuary facilities

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Spynie mortuary facility – experience of family sparked national campaign.

THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT has revealed that new arrangements will be put in place ensure that a minimum standard of mortuary facilities throughout Scotland are put in place.

A Mortuary Review Group was set up following a campaign instigated in Moray by Maryan Whyte and her family.

Mrs Whyte’s husband Frank sadly died in an accident on Findhorn Bay.  The family then had to undergo a highly distressing experience at Moray’s mortuary facility which was well short of the standards that should be expected and no way fitting when going through the distress of formal identification of a loved one.

Maryan led a campaign to improve standards not only in Moray but throughout Scotland.  Now her call has been acknowledged in the Review Group report, which gathered information from all NHS Boards.

Welcoming the report, Scotland’s public health minister, Aileen Campbell MSP, said: “This would not have happened without the Whyte family bravely sharing their painful experience with us – and they continue to play a crucial role as part of the Mortuary Review Group.

“The information gathered from each of the NHS boards and other providers has helped identify areas where we need now to focus our efforts to ensure the appropriate standard of service is being provided.”

The minister added that the vision is of post mortem examinations being carried out only in health board facilities and in an appropriate environment to an agreed protocol.

Maryan Whyte

Maryan Whyte today welcomed the Scottish Government announcement that they accept the findings of the group, saying: “We started our campaign when we discovered how horrendous the experiences were for the bereaved all over Scotland who had to attend a mortuary to view their loved one.

“Our own experience left us with such feelings of disgust and desolation, gut wrenching memories which no-one should have when we come to that most final of goodbyes.

“When I went with my grand-daughter Isla to the Member’s debate in Holyrood we didn’t think that Parliament would have such a strong and unified reaction to work towards ensuring mortuary provision across Scotland could no longer be as it was.

“As a family we can’t say enough in our thanks to MSP Richard Lochhead for his unwavering support and kindness at all stages throughout our campaign.  We hugely appreciate our Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell for taking such swift, appropriate action to bring about a basis for the future mortuary service across Scotland.

“Our aim now, is to continue campaigning in the belief that mortuaries, along with the necessary processes and procedures should work in such a way that all those involved can be proud of the way in which we treat our deceased, our bereaved, and the professionals who are engaged at the conclusion of life.”

Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead thanked the Whyte family for their courage in highlighting the distressing experience being faced by families throughout the country.

Petition led to action by the Scottish Government

He said: “Their efforts made this a national issue and have secured significant improvements with all of Scotland’s mortuaries now having to adhere to appropriate standards to ensure the needs of bereaving families, the deceased and staff are recognised and reflected.

“This is an important part of Frank Whyte’s legacy. It is only because of the family’s grit and determination, and the support they won from across Scotland that this victory has been won and hopefully once the recommendations are implemented no more families will have to go through the same experiences as the Whyte family or others who shared their concerns.

“I congratulate Mrs Whyte and her family for what is an astonishing achievement especially given that they felt the need to campaign at a time when they were grieving for a loved one.

“I also thank the Minister for Public Health Aileen Campbell for listening to the family’s case and to the Review Group for all their hard work.”