A HEARTBROKEN family have told of their disbelief after they were informed of a relative’s tragic death via e-mail.
Phillip Blakemore, a former St Helens Reporter employee, sustained substantial brain damage while on holiday in Thailand following a massive double stroke.
But his family say the way in which they were informed has left them “distraught” and a dispute over his repatriation is now prolonging his family’s agony.
Mr Blakemore, 76, who grew up in Rainhill and worked for the Reporter as a compositor back in the 1970s, finally died last Tuesday morning (February 15) after fighting for his life in Pattaya Hospital for seven heartbreaking weeks.
But a mistake on a health insurance form had already made his policy invalid and left his family desperately struggling to pay the spiralling hospital fees and the cost of flying him home.
In the form, filled out before he set off for the far east with his wife Vera, 75, Mr Blakemore failed to mention that he suffered from angina. Mr Blakemore’s son-in-law, Phil Greene, told the Reporter: “The family all just want closure on this ordeal now – we have suffered enough.
“The news of his death wasn’t a huge shock but the way in which we were told, by e-mail, certainly was – that’s not the way to do it is it? The family are distraught.
“We sent the Thai hospital £26,000 in a bid to bring him back home when he was still alive and are still in negotiations with them through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Our view is that the money was sent to pay for a chunk of the hospital fees and to repatriate him. But we’re still waiting for their answer – it’s just prolonging our pain.
“We’re relying on their honour and goodwill. They’ve got nothing to gain from keeping him in Thailand. Every day they keep him it will be costing them money – we’ve got no more money to give. It sounds awful, but in a way it might have been easier for everyone if he had passed away seven weeks ago. His wife is now facing financial meltdown.”
Phil Greene also says that Mr Blakemore’s family want others to learn from their painful ordeal.
He added: “Lots of people – especially the elderly– can get confused when filling out forms. In an ideal world we would like to see everybody who takes out medical insurance in future have to have it signed off by their GP – it would cost everyone about £20 more but would stop mistakes like this from happening again.
“Lessons must be learnt.”