POLICE and hospital bosses have launched an investigation after a heartless thief stole a wedding ring from a desperately ill patient.
Stroke victim Rita Hanson, 81, was in Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s Acute Medical Unit when her family believe the precious ring was taken off her finger.
While Mrs Hanson is fighting for her life in hospital, her daughter Lorraine Shaw, today pleaded with pawn brokers and the public to be on the lookout for the ring.
She said: “I feel like a knife has been stabbed into me and my mother has been violated.
“The ring is my mother’s and grandmother’s wedding ring forged into one band.
“I thought of taking the wedding ring from her but I wanted to maintain the dignity of an old lady.”
Mrs Hanson was rushed to hospital when she collapsed at the Willows Care Home, St Annes.
Her daughter says the ring, which has been a part of the family since 1920, was on her mother’s finger as she arrived at hospital and did not fall off.
The 54-year-old told The Gazette: “I was stroking her hand and trying to get her through the stroke when I noticed something was missing.
“She isn’t conscious at the moment, but if she comes through and realises what has happened I think she will die.
“The hospital is as horrified and upset as I am and I want to warn other elderly ladies this is happening.
“We have double checked to see if the ring has fallen off her finger and the staff have gone through the laundry, but it hasn’t turned up.
“It would mean everything to me if I could get it back.
“It’s not the money I want, it’s the fact she has worn it on her finger for 57 years and it’s irreplaceable.”
A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said: “We are investigating the theft and would urge anyone with information to contact police on 101.”
Karen Sanderson, security management specialist at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are currently conducting an internal investigation into this alleged incident.
“Patient safety and security in the hospital is taken very seriously and we will continue to liaise closely with the patient’s family.”