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Family's row with hospital over refusal to hand over dead father's belongings.

Byline: Alison Stacey Health Correspondent

AGRIEVING family is locked in a tug of war with a Birmingham hospital which has refused to give back their dead dad's belongings.

Pensioner Ray Amphlett was rushed to City Hospital by ambulance on November 8 suffering shortness of breath, and was diagnosed with acute vascular failure. The 74-year-old was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where five days later, daughter Leah Ellison had to make the heartbreaking decision to turn off his life support.

As Leah and her brother Mark prepared to make funeral arrangements, they contacted City Hospital to ask for Ray's belongings, including his flat keys, car keys, wallet and watch. Leah, from Great Barr, later visited the hospital, taking along the death certificate, to collect them.

But, despite being Ray's next of kin, Leah was told that she would need a copy of his will to pick up the items.

Four months on the hospital says they now need a grant of probate, where legal authority is given to the executor of the will. "I spoke to a solicitor and he's never heard anything like it before," said mum-oftwo Leah.

"When I first went into the hospital, they said they couldn't give me his things because he could 'have kids anywhere'.

"My dad had just died, so I got pretty upset. I just don't understand their reasoning, and by what authority they can withhold his personal things."

Probate is only usually necessary if a person's estate is worth more than PS15,000. As Ray did not own his flat, and only had a small amount of savings, the family did not need it to deal with his will.

"He didn't have a lot of money," said Leah. "He left money for the funeral and that was about it, so we didn't need a probate. I'm his next of kin so I was the one who had to decide whether to turn his machine off. I've also closed his bank accounts.

"But I can't get his watch, wallet and keys back from the hospital. It is ridiculous.

"There's no closure," she added. "It makes us wonder whether they've lost his things.

"My mum said maybe we should just forget it, but I can't now on principle.

"It makes me think about the people who don't have anybody to help, and would have to go through this on their own. They've shown us no compassion at all."

After being contacted by the Birmingham Post, the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust insisted that asking for probate was standard policy.

Chief Nurse Paula Gardner said: "We offer our deepest sympathies to Raymond's family and friends at this very difficult time.

"Our standard policy in this situation is to release personal effects to the person with the grant of probate, which identifies them as responsible for safekeeping the property."

There's no closure. My mum said maybe we should forget about it, but I can't now on principle. Leah Ellison


Leah Ellison, who is fighting to get her father's belongings returned

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 11, 2019
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