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London - A body was left at an ambulance station instead of being taken straight to a mortuary because paramedics didn’t want to work late, it has been claimed.

The crew, from Ramsbottom, Manchester, were due to finish their shift and would have had to work overtime if they had taken the corpse away.

Instead they radioed their control room which approved dropping off the dead man at Bury ambulance station, according to reports. The body remained at the station for ‘some time’ before another crew transferred the unnamed man to Oldham mortuary 15 miles away.

It is understood NHS protocol dictates that a body should be taken straight to a mortuary once a person has died.

Last Thursday a spokesman for North West Ambulance Service said they were ‘shocked and appalled’ by the incident on December 29.

She said a member of staff had been suspended and an investigation launched.

A source told the Bury Times: ‘The ambulance crews didn’t want a late finish and transferred the body from one ambulance to another before he was taken to Oldham Mortuary. For patient dignity you would go straight to the mortuary, you wouldn’t delay.’

The source added that the dignity of the man had been ‘completely abandoned.’

A spokesman for the North West Ambulance Service said: ‘We have spoken at length with the patient’s family to offer our condolences and to assure them that we have taken this matter very seriously and that this is not the standard of care we expect from our staff.

‘We expect our staff to uphold our values in terms of respect, dignity and compassion. Anyone who doesn’t, risks losing their position within the North West Ambulance Service.

‘We will continue to liaise with the family to ensure they are fully informed throughout the process.’ The Manchester North coroner’s office has started an investigation.

The case echoes that of James Harrison whose body was left for more than an hour next to rubbish bags on the floor of Ely ambulance station in Cambridgeshire. The crew were keen to finish their shift on time. Mr Harrison, 32, had collapsed and died near his home in September 2014.

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