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Trust ‘deeply sorry’ over death of woman, 81, on M11 as figures reveal £7m spend on out-of-area beds

PUBLISHED: 17:09 09 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:09 09 October 2020

Peggy Copeman died on the side of the road of the M11 while being transported back to Norwich from Devon. A family photograph from her 80th birthday in September 2018. Picture: Fulcher family

Peggy Copeman died on the side of the road of the M11 while being transported back to Norwich from Devon. A family photograph from her 80th birthday in September 2018. Picture: Fulcher family

Archant

The region’s mental health trust has pledged not to allow “frail and older” patients to be sent out of the county for care following the death of an 81-year-old woman at the side of the M11 last year.

Nick and Maxine Fulcher from North Lopham have been struggling to get the right care for their son Kieran. Photo: Sonya DuncanNick and Maxine Fulcher from North Lopham have been struggling to get the right care for their son Kieran. Photo: Sonya Duncan

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has said it is “determined nobody should have an experience” like Peggy Copeman had, during its 2020 annual general meeting (AGM).

It comes as figures revealed the trust, once dubbed the worst in England, spent close to £7m on out-of-area beds in 2019-20.

During the AGM, Nick Fulcher, Mrs Copeman’s son-in-law, asked the trust what they were doing to ensure no other patients were treated like his mother-in-law.

READ MORE: 81-year-old gran should not have had to die on the roadside on M11

Professor Jonathan Warren, new chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: NSFTProfessor Jonathan Warren, new chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: NSFT

Dr Dan Dalton, the trust’s chief medical officer, said: “We are really determined nobody should have to travel miles to access care they should be able to get near to home and absolutely determined nobody should have an experience like your mother in law had.

“We have determined nobody, particularly no-one that is frail and older should ever go to an out of area placement again without one of the executive team and a consultant psychiatrist saying that is the absolute, only thing that can be done for them. We are doing a checklist before anyone travels to hospital - their physical health is put first and foremost.

“It is not okay that we don’t think about these things.”

READ MORE: Family attacks mental health boss for describing grandmother’s death as ‘media issue’

And he added that if “difficult conversations” needed to be had to get beds in the right places, the trust was going to have them.

“I am deeply sorry about what happened,” Dr Dalton added.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Fulcher said: “I just feel it was weak and pathetic.

“They say it has to go through a psychiatrist before it happens. I’m not really interested in that.

“I’m more interested in what they’re going to do - I want Peggy’s legacy to live on.”

READ MORE: Family of 81-year-old who died on the roadside face further heartache

And he added: “The biggest thing that upsets me is older people’s beds [in the trust] still being inadequate.

“I want to make sure people are getting the care they need.”

Papers published ahead of the AGM also revealed 73pc of the trust’s spending had gone on staff, including a total of £10.8m on agency workers.

Chief executive Jonathan Warren said recruitment was a priority and the trust’s nursing vacancy rate was now the “lowest in the East of England”.

He added: “We’re starting to make some real progress on that.”

READ MORE: ‘Got away with it’ - NHS manager gloated about coverage of dead great-grandmother


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