A grieving son is furious with Charing Cross Hospital after he was unable to see the body of his mother due to 'mortuary refurbishment'.
Marc Maitland, of Hazlebury Road, Fulham, has accused the hospital of compounding his family's grief over the death of Julie Maitland, 82, who worked as a staff nurse at Charing Cross for 30 years.
Mr Maitland, a lawyer, said: "The fact she worked there for so long makes it even more poignant. My father, Ramyard, and I now won't be able to see her until the day before the funeral. We are very, very upset."
The family had gone to the hospital at 9am last Wednesday after being informed Mrs Maitand had taken a turn for the worse after a short illness, but she had died before they arrived.
Nothing seemed untoward when Mr Maitland was told by hospital staff he should call the mortuary the following morning if he wanted to say goodbye to her.
But what happened next left him stunned.
"After registering her death at Fulham Town Hall I called the mortuary to make the appointment and the person on the end of the other line said, 'I am having a refurbishment and there won't be any viewings until June'. I couldn't believe it.
"No one had mentioned this on the ward after my mother had died. In fact, it was the staff who approached me first and told me I'd be able to see her at the mortuary. There were several senior staff there and not one of them knew anything about it. It's amazing."
A spokeswoman for the hospital said it is encouraging families to spend as much time as they can on the ward with their loved one while the mortuary is shut, but Mr Maitland says this is not good enough.
"Luckily my father was able to see his wife on the ward after she died but what if the next of kin lived abroad? It seems no one at the hospital has had the foresight to consider that, and I think it is a very serious breach of procedure."
Mr Maitland was considering seeking a court injunction demanding the hospital release his mother's body, but decided against it.
"Life is too short and it wouldn't be the best way to remember her. We're just going to have to deal with it and get through the next few days as best we can."
The hospital blamed the blunder on a 'miscommunication'. A spokeswoman said: "The viewing facility at the Charing Cross Hospital mortuary is temporarily closed due to refurbishment. During this period and where appropriate, we are organising viewings in alternative locations in the hospital and encouraging relatives to organise viewings at their chosen undertakers.
"We have spoken to Mr Maitland about his concerns and apologise for any distress this temporary closure may have caused.”
The chapel reopens in June 10.