A RETIRED police officer hoping to say goodbye to his dying mother was instead greeted by the sight of her corpse after frantically searching a hospital for 40 minutes.

John Till, 61, was urged to get to Colchester Hospital as quickly as possible after his 93-year-old mother suffered a fall at home.

But when he arrived, staff could not tell him where she was.

Mr Till, who served in the Metropolitan Police for 31 years, spent a frantic 40 minutes searching the hospital looking for his critically ill mum.

A helpful nurse suspected she might have ended up in Birch ward, in the hospital’s Gainsborough wing.

When they arrived, she checked a recently-vacated bed with the curtains drawn around it.

“They pulled back the curtains and mum was sitting bolt upright, mouth wide open and knuckles clenched,” he said.

“No-one had even been aware she was there.

“I said ‘She’s dead’ and they looked at me, one of the nurses said ‘We don’t know that.’

“One of them walked over to mum and put a hand on her head and said ‘Your son’s here.’

“I thought ‘You must be in the wrong job if you don’t know’. I could tell she was dead straight away.

“I was so angry I couldn’t speak.

“I had been looking for her for over half an hour, it could have been my last chance to say goodbye.

“They found out she had been brought on to the ward alive 20 minutes before – while I was still searching.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Vera Till was admitted to the hospital on July 26, after suffering a fall at her home in Reckitts Close, Clacton.

At around 4.30pm, her son received a call informing him his mother’s condition was stable.

But at around 6.30pm he received a second call urging him to get to the hospital as soon as possible as her condition was critical.

He arrived at the hospital at around 7.50pm and found his mother’s body at 8.30pm.

“I do not, in any way, blame the hospital for my mother’s death,” he said.

“The issue is I entrusted my mum into their care and they lost her.

“I knew she might well die soon, but all I had wanted was for her to not die alone. That’s exactly what happened.”

Mr Till worked as a dog handler as part of the Met’s Territorial Support Group - typically involved in frontline operations like policing protests and carrying out drugs raids.

He has seen people who have been stabbed, shot and burned, but said his experience that day at the hospital was far worse.

“I’ve seen plenty of dead bodies in my day, but none like my mother’s,” he said.

“Her mouth was open like she had been screaming.

“She looked terrified, like she had been screaming for help.”

Hospital response:‘We are sorry this happened to poor Vera’

Catherine Morgan, director of nursing at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are very sorry to learn of this and offer Mr Till and his family our sincere apologies.

“We strongly encourage Mr Till to contact us so that we can look into every aspect of Mrs Till’s care.”

Mr Till has filed a complaint through the hospital’s PALS system.

The retired PC lives in Brentwood, while his mother moved to Clacton 18 years ago.

He frequently made the journey to see her and over the past two years has travelled 20,000 miles across 200 visits.

He was eager to ensure his mother maintained a degree of her closely-guarded independence but was under no illusions her health was failing.

Vera had heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mr Till said: “Her one wish was she didn’t want to die in a hospital or a care home.”