Sick woman dies after Highland hotel sends her home 350 miles in taxi

Calls have been made for a probe into a Scottish hotel after it emerged a second ill pensioner who was sent hundreds of miles home by taxi has died.

Loch Achray Hotel. Picture: Lochs & Glens
Loch Achray Hotel. Picture: Lochs & Glens

Staff at the Loch Achray Hotel, in Callander, sent 79-year-old Norma Francis on a 350-mile taxi journey to her home in Gnosall, Stafford, in April after she showed symptoms of gastric illness.

She fell unconscious during the journey and could not be roused by paramedics. She died in hospital that night.

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It has now emerged that just three weeks later the hotel sent 70-year-old holidaymaker, Carol Whymark, who staff suspected was suffering from norovirus, home to Suffolk in a taxi. She died in hospital the next day.

Carol Whymark had awoken at the hotel feeling unwell. Picture: Contributed

Her daughter Sharone said the family has instructed lawyers to investigate her stay at the hotel, booked through tour operator Lochs and Glens Holidays Limited.

The company has launched a full investigation into Mrs Whymark’s case and offered its condolences to her family.

Ms Whymark, 47, said: “I just think it is terrible that this could have happened once, let alone twice. It’s disgusting.”

On 28 April, the grandmother had awoken feeling unwell and wanted to stay in the hotel.

Carol Whymark had awoken at the hotel feeling unwell. Picture: Contributed

But her daughter said the hotel staff told her 73-year-old father, Desmond, that his wife had norovirus and offered him rubber gloves to clean the room, and left food and water outside.

The hotel then offered to pay for a taxi to take her home, without providing appropriate medical advice, the family claim.

When they arrived home in Stanton, after a 450-mile journey, Ms Whymark immediately called an ambulance but her mother died of a heart attack at West Suffolk Hospital the next day.

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A post mortem examination revealed she did not have norovirus in her system when she died.

Lawyers acting for Norma Francis’ family are now investigating whether the Loch Achray Hotel disregarded special guidelines from NHS Health Scotland, advising norovirus sufferers to stay indoors and away from others until 48 hours after their symptoms cease.

The Francis family have also called for answers into the death of the mother-of-two after a post-mortem examination revealed she had contracted norovirus.

Norovirus is a highly infectious stomach bug, causing symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea.

Amandeep Dhillon, a public health lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, the law firm representing both families, said: “To hear that another guest has reportedly been sent home in this fashion, just three weeks after Norma’s death is both alarming and deeply concerning.”

Neil Wells, managing director for Lochs and Glens Holidays, speaking on behalf of the hotel, said: “We were extremely saddened when we heard that Mrs Whymark had passed away and extend our deepest sympathy to the family.

“We are in the process of carrying out an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her visit to the hotel.”