An investigation is under way after the body of a 32-year-old man was left on the floor of an ambulance station for more than an hour because paramedics wanted to finish their shift on time.
A whistle-blower working in the East of England Ambulance Service claimed that the body of James Harrison, 32, of Littleport, was left next to bins at Ely Ambulance Station, in Nutholt Lane, instead of being taken directly to a mortuary at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge.
The whistle-blower alleges that an ambulance crew from Downham Market responded to the call to collect Mr Harrison’s body from outside Littleport fire station but were about to finish a night shift and didn’t want to make the trip to Cambridge.
He said the crew “were then authorised” to leave the body in the garage area and return home; paramedics discovered the body on the floor, next to bins, more than an hour later when they arrived for work at the Ely outstation.
A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: “An incident last month involving the transportation of a deceased patient is under investigation, and as such we cannot comment any further.”
The spokesman said that the family of the man would be contacted in the coming weeks, as the investigation was carried out.
The whistle-blower said: “Standard practice would be for paramedics to transport the body to the mortuary but, on the day, the body was left on the station floor next to the bins for more than hour, which raises issues of dignity and decency.
“I have never experienced anything like this is my career, it was totally wrong. When the day crew came in, about an hour later, they found the body there.
“I understand there have been statements taken but they [the ambulance service] haven’t done anything about it.”
In a separate incident, residents in Littleport have questioned why no cordon was placed immediately round the area where the body was found.
They have asked why the cordon – later extended- was only put in place some hours after the body had been removed.
“People were walking their dogs along that stretch of road before the police arrived back to put up a cordon,” said one. “It was a bit of a shambles.”
Police and forensic experts spent three days at the scene before a post mortem examination ruled there was no evidence of foul play. Cause of death is provisionally given as “unascertained” pending further tests
An inquest into Mr Harrison’s death has now been opened and adjourned by William Morris, senior coroner for North and East Cambridgeshire.
The cause of death was listed as “unascertained pending further tests”.
The inquest was adjourned and will re-open again on January 14.