THE family of a woman found dead in a US hospital 17 days after she went missing is backing a campaign to change the law after her children were awarded a $3m payout.
Lynne Spalding, originally from Haswell, had been admitted to hospital suffering from a bladder infection when she went missing.
She was found in a stairwell which had not been checked by the sheriff department last September.
Brother Bill Spalding, 58, from Easington Lane, called the settlement for niece Simone, 24, and nephew Liam, 20, “blood money” from the authorities who should be held to account for what happened.
While the cash will help support the siblings as they come to terms with the loss of their mother, Bill has said he wanted San Francisco General Hospital and others involved in the flawed search for Lynne to be brought before a court.
Mr Spalding, who works with adults with autism in Durham and lives with wife Gill, 54, is backing a campaign to bring in a law which could see vulnerable patients given a bracelet fitted with a GPS chip which could help track then down if they go missing.
He said: “I myself would have liked it to go to court because I think punitive action would punish the hospital and be a warning and deterrent. This money will help my niece and nephew as they cope with their grief and meet their needs, but it won’t right a wrong, they will still be without their mother.
“They have been advised from professional people that they had to put in a claim within three months of the incident.
“Money is money, and it sounds a lot, but it won’t be enough for them to live on, the cost of living is different out there. You couldn’t buy an apartment with it in the city, so it’s got to be in context.”
Bill is also calling on the city’s residents to scrutinise the mayor and sheriff as they go for re-election.
One member of staff within the sheriff department was sacked and five deputies still face disciplinary action following what happened to Lynne, who was 57.
The payout is equivalent to £1.9m.