Ill pensioner dies after 350-mile taxi journey

A pensioner who fell ill when on holiday died after being sent on a 350-mile journey home in a taxi by Scottish hotel staff.

Norma Francis had been visiting the Trossachs on a coach tour in April with her husband John, 81, when she contracted the symptoms of severe gastric illness.

The 79-year-old fell unconscious on the taxi journey to her home in Gnosall, Stafford, and later died in hospital.

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Her devastated family have instructed lawyers to investigate her stay at Loch Achray Hotel, booked through tour operator Lochs and Glens Holidays Limited.

Mr Francis claims that the hotel manager informed them staff were arranging a taxi to take them the 350-mile journey home, despite his concern for his wife’s health.

Lawyers are now investigating this allegation, as NHS Health Scotland guidelines advise people suffering from illness to stay indoors and away from others until they feel better.

Anne Francis, Norma’s daughter, said: “I feel like the hotel couldn’t wait to get rid of her despite the fact that she clearly wasn’t well enough to travel.”

The couple left the hotel on the afternoon of April 6 and Mrs Francis slept for much of the journey.

However she could not be roused from her sleep when they arrived home and paramedics were called who delivered CPR.

The mother-of-two never regained consciousness and died at the County Hospital, Stafford.

Her daughter Anne Francis said: “We’re devastated that we have lost her and that her last days were so distressing.

“We just want to know why the decision to send her home was made and whether anything could have been done to prevent her death.

“I don’t want anyone else being put in the same dreadful position as my mum was.”

A post mortem revealed that Mrs Francis had contracted norovirus and the circumstances of her death are being investigated.

An inquest will be held at South Staffordshire Coroner’s Court in October.

Clare Comiskey, a public health lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, which is representing Norma’s family, said: “Norma and John booked their seven-day stay at Loch Achray Hotel to enjoy a relaxing break, never imagining it could have ended in such tragedy.

“Now Norma’s family just want to know if anything could have been done differently to prevent her death and whether there are any lessons to be learned which may prevent what happened to Norma happening to anyone else.”

Neil Wells, managing director for Lochs and Glens, said: “We were deeply saddened when we learned that Mrs Francis had passed away.

“As this is still being investigated it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further at this stage.”