The family of a young mother who died when doctors failed to diagnose her fatal illness say they cannot afford to bury her ashes because the NHS and out-of-hours provider are squabbling over who should pay for her interment.

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Clare Secker, from Gorleston, fell ill during Christmas 2008 with flu-like symptoms.

Her worried family called out-of-hours GP company Take Care Now, but a nurse told her mother Janice, over the phone, to give her paracetamol rather than involving a GP.

The 19-year-old died on December 29, 2008, leaving an 11 month-old son, Tyler, who is now four and started school this week.

It was subsequently found her death was caused by broncho-pneumonia, which a GP could have cured with a simple course of antibiotics. Clare’s family claim they were never offered the services of a GP.

Clare was cremated, but her ashes remain in the living room at the family’s Somerville Avenue home. The family cannot afford to have them buried and those they hold responsible for Clare’s death are squabbling over who should pay.

Clare’s father Michael, 56, said channelling their energy into looking after Tyler had kept them going and added: “It has been nearly four years and it makes it harder because you have to keep talking about it because all this is going on. If we could finalise things then the family and Tyler would have somewhere to visit and lay flowers.”

The nurse who gave the original advice has admitted responsibility through her lawyers. But they will only accept responsibility to compensate the family if Harmoni, which took over Take Care Now, will reimburse her for any damages.

Harmoni refuses to do so and claims its insurance specifically excludes responsibility for negligence by nurses.

Great Yarmouth and Waveney primary care trust (PCT), which handed out the out-of-hours contract, claims it requires the company to hold insurance and it is the company’s responsibility. The case has now reached an impasse, whereas often an interim payment would be made at this point to help families carry out a burial.

The Secker’s lawyer is Sandra Patton, a medical negligence specialist with AshtonKCJ, who says the increasing use of private providers in the NHS could mean more families are left in the same situation.

She said: “The bickering between the three parties and their failure to face up to their responsibilities has meant the ashes of this poor young woman they allowed to die still rest in the family’s living room, denied a decent burial.”

She added: “We have asked for an interim payment so at least Clare can be decently buried, but we can’t get anything sensible from any of them. They all insist ‘it’s nuffin to do wiv us, guv’.”

A spokeswoman for the PCT said: “We have every sympathy with the family involved in this case.

“Although the PCT funds the health care received by its local population, in the rare and unfortunate event that things go wrong, it is the provider of that care that will be responsible for paying any damages in the event that liability to do so is established.”

A spokesperson for Harmoni said: “As this matter is subject to ongoing litigation, it is not possible for Harmoni to pass comment.”

12 comments

  • how heartless you lot! no one should have to go through this especially when the family is still grieving. time and time again we see the effect of this government's private sector agenda going wrong. g4s and the nhs. what next?

    Report this comment

    nhs lover

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Benefit culture strikes again....get a job and do the decent family thing instead of hanging the NHS out to dry!

    Report this comment

    dave123

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Who paid for the cremation ? I thought the idea of one being cremated was instead of being buried.

    Report this comment

    GoodRockinDaddy

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Daist Roots like most of your comments you are wasting peoples time so stop blaming the NHS for your own sad failings.

    Report this comment

    dave123

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • I would ask dave123 how Daisy Roots is, and I quote 'blaming the NHS for your own sad failings'?? I believe that DR makes highly intelligent comments via the EDP whereas most of your comments simply slag off many disadvantaged people from an apparent arrogant stance.

    Report this comment

    micklynn

    Saturday, September 8, 2012

  • I am perfectly aware of the location of the memorial, which judging by its construction and size must have cost a bit. If they cannot bury the ashes scatter them or bury there. Why not? No cost then so no issue.

    Report this comment

    micklynn

    Saturday, September 8, 2012

  • I know Mick&Janice personally I was also lucky enough to have knew Clare. This family are not spongers but a family that lost their DaughterSistet and a young mother to Tyler. Yes they have spent money on an Memorial to her very young life. That was ended by neglect, an admission to guilt has been made by the nurse. So make a payment to Mick&Janice now so that they and Tyler can lay her to rest in peace. My and my sons condolences go out the whole Secker Family. Stay strong. "Stablis"

    Report this comment

    Pauldon56

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • The real story is that the diagnosis was left in the hands of a nurse by the GP out of hours service, that GPs no longer make out of hours visits and that there are no 24 hour walk in clinics at every hospital for people like the deceased who was fobbed off with take a paracetomol. Illnesses like pneumonia which seem very like flu can kill quickly, if GPs wont come to us, we should have somewhere we can go without fear of being told we are wasting the time of A&E.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • The current memorial is in the family garden, that's why the ashes have not been scattered. They want to bury the ashes in the Cemetery, if you read the whole article you would know that " micklynn "

    Report this comment

    Pauldon56

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Yet again the EDP panders to those in society who think they are owed something and creates yet another idiotic campaigning type article. Sometimes I wonder whether I'm reading the EDP or the Daily Mail....could do better.

    Report this comment

    merrydancer

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • The personal story fails to move me, that is a matter for the family. More importantly for us, and from what I can see for the family, is the fact that this service contract appears to have been awarded with significant negligence. Representatives from Government and from the licensing authorities need to sort this out or the logical result will be that an in-efficient, and un-accountable, publicly run Health Service will be provide these services again in the future. Where has that ever got us?

    Report this comment

    George Ezekial

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • What is wrong with scattering those ashes at her memorial? I just don't see what the issue is here.

    Report this comment

    micklynn

    Friday, September 7, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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