Name written in coffin on marker pen

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A funeral director who wrote the deceased’s name in marker pen on a damaged coffin has been “given advice” that it was unacceptable.

The incident was one example of bad practice detailed in a report by Scotland’s first inspector of funeral directors.

Natalie McKail also detailed an occasion where two bodies had been mixed up by mortuary staff.

Ms McKail was appointed in 2017 in the wake of the baby ashes scandal.

Her role was one of the key recommendations of Dame Elish Angiolini, who led the National Cremation Investigation into crematorium practices across Scotland.

Ms McKail’s first annual report revealed that a funeral director was reported after “presenting a damaged coffin for cremation with a marker pen name plate”.

‘Leaking body fluid’

It said the funeral director concerned had admitted the breach and was subsequently given “advice in a written report that this is not acceptable”.

Ms McKail also said that another funeral director had reported themselves to the inspector after the bodies of two men named William Paterson were mixed up and put into the wrong coffins.

Ms McKail’s report said: “Internal investigations established that identity checks were not adequately carried out.

“The result was that the wrong deceased was prepared and coffined, when the second funeral director realised the error.

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Scottish Government

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Natalie McKail was appointed in July 2017

“Understandably, on notification, the family were deeply distressed.”

Meanwhile the inspector said an investigation had been launched into the case where a funeral director presented a coffin for cremation that was “leaking bodily fluids”.

Ms McKail said in such cases follow-up action was taken with the funeral directors involved.

She stated: “These initial findings do reinforce the need to establish an agreed and acceptable level of good practice through regulatory intervention, and to provide an independent source of reassurance to the public.”

However, she also stressed from visits that she has carried out over the past year that: “There [we]re many areas of common practice across Scotland with a number of businesses developing areas of excellence”.

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