NHS invite for newsreader’s dead wife

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NHS breast screening invite sent to newsreader's dead wife

Image copyright Sky News
Image caption Colin Brazier's wife of 20 years, Jo, died from breast cancer

A TV news reader has been sent a letter inviting his wife to a breast cancer screening weeks after she died from the disease.

Sky News' Colin Brazier shared a picture on Twitter of the letter from Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

His wife of 20 years Jo died from breast cancer aged 55 on 6 July. Brazier said the letter was a "minor irritation" but "needs noting".

Hampshire Hospitals has apologised and said it would investigate the incident.

Skip Twitter post by @colinbraziersky

I know the NHS is the closest thing we have to a state religion etc, but invitations to breast screening fall on deaf ears to those who’ve already died of breast cancer. pic.twitter.com/RKiite9E7V

— Colin Brazier (@colinbraziersky) August 22, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @colinbraziersky

Mrs Brazier was invited to attend a screening by the North and Mid Hants Breast Screening Unit on 14 September.

Sharing the picture of the letter, Brazier said: "I know the NHS is the closest thing we have to a state religion etc, but invitations to breast screening fall on deaf ears to those who've already died of breast cancer."

  • Dead children sent school admissions letter

After he shared the picture, dozens of Twitter users expressed their condolence with some calling the letter "insensitive", "disgraceful" and "heartbreaking".

In response, Brazier called for a "sense of perspective please" saying it was "not heart-breaking, utterly or otherwise".

He said "mistakes occur in all monolithic institutions", but added: "It's just something that needs noting when it happens."

Hampshire Hospitals later apologised for "the distress this letter must have caused".

It also said it would investigate the case and "look for any lessons that can be learned".

Skip Twitter post by @HHFTnhs

We are very sorry for the distress this letter must have caused. Please be assured we take this very seriously. We will investigate this and look for any lessons that can be learned. Please message us with details of how we can contact you directly so we can talk to you.

— Hampshire Hospitals (@HHFTnhs) August 22, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @HHFTnhs

There have been similar cases of bereaved partners receiving letters about their spouses.

In July PayPal wrote to a woman who died of cancer saying her death breached its rules, and it might take legal action as a consequence.

Lindsay Durdle died aged 37 of cancer, but her husband Howard opened a letter addressed to his wife, which claimed she owed the company £3,200 and she was in breach of a condition stipulated by the online payments system "as we have notice that you are deceased".

The company said it would investigate the case, apologised, and wrote off the debt.

In March 2017 a grieving son opened a letter to his mother from South Gloucestershire Council, saying she was not eligible for a council tax reduction because the "customer passed away".

The council apologised for causing the grieving party upset.

After his wife died, father-of-six Brazier asked mourners not to wear bright colours at her funeral.

Writing in the Spectator, he said he was "ill at ease" with some of the modern conventions surrounding funerals.

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