THE Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) has apologised after sending ‘insensitive’ cancer check-up appointments to deceased former patients.
It comes after an Olive Press investigation discovered that at least four bereaved partners have received medical letters addressed to loved ones, who died months or years before.
Last night, a GHA spokesperson told the Olive Press it ‘wished to apologise for the distress caused to any families who have received inappropriate correspondence’.
The spokesman added that they had introduced ‘several improvements in the last few days’, after our probe.
He continued: “The GHA will continue to look at ways procedures can be further enhanced, especially for appointments made six months to a year in advance for post-cancer treatments.”
In one of the worst cases, Linda Olivares, 63, was left ‘hysterical’ after receiving a letter more than two years since her husband Anthony died of cancer, aged 57, in September 2014.
The grandmother choked back tears as she showed the Olive Press the ‘insensitive’ letter, which contained information leaflets on colon cancer and a cancer testing kit.
Anthony was diagnosed with a stage-four melanoma in February, 2012.
The GHA missive, which Linda received last month, was headed ‘Urgent Medical Supplies, Please Do Not Delay’.
The Morrisons worker, who has lived in Gibraltar for over 20 years since moving from Canada, has been on antidepressants since Anthony’s death.
“It was very upsetting and I was left completely hysterical,” she said.
“There were tubes in the letter, too and I was really angry and rang up and asked who sent the letter and where the information had come from?
“My husband died over two years ago, and they send me this? I was hysterical.”
She added: “I do not understand how their database has not been updated over the last few years.”
In total, the Olive Press found THREE other victims who had received similar letters advising dead loved ones to attend appointments.
One widow, who asked to remain anonymous, said she had received a shocking three letters addressed to her dead husband, who died of mouth and throat cancer in August 2015.
“I received the first letter six or eight weeks after he died. Several weeks after I received a second one.
“I called the GHA. No-one said sorry about the mistake. “Then incredibly six to eight weeks later I got the third one.”
Another 59-year-old widower, whose wife died of Alzheimer’s in 2013, said: “I received a letter from the hospital saying my dead wife was due a smear test. It just kept bringing it all back to me.”