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Family attacks mental health boss for describing grandmother's death as 'media issue'

PUBLISHED: 15:24 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:24 23 January 2020

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

Archant

A family has criticised the mental health trust for describing the death of a woman on the M11 as a "media issue".

Nick Fulcher, from North Lopham, criticised the way the NSFT had dealt with his mother-in-law's death. Photo: ArchantNick Fulcher, from North Lopham, criticised the way the NSFT had dealt with his mother-in-law's death. Photo: Archant

In a board report on Thursday Jonathan Warren, chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, wrote: "The biggest single media issue affecting the Trust since the last Board of Directors meeting has been the death last month of Norfolk grandmother Peggy Copeman.

"I'd like to extend my heartfelt condolences to her family. We are continuing our investigations together with the care home and patient transport supplier and are determined to learn from what happened to Peggy."

The 81-year old, from New Buckenham, was sent more than 250 miles away to Taunton, Somerset, for mental health treatment.

She died on the roadside of the M11 from a suspected heart attack in December last year while being transported back to Norfolk.

Her son-in-law Nick Fulcher said: "She is definitely not a media issue. She is a human being, neglected by a Trust she was meant to trust.

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"We haven't even laid her to rest. I'm bitter and I'm twisted about it.

"The hard bit is the Trust is saying my mother-in-law is a media issue when the issue actually lies with them."

Dr Dan Dalton, chief medical officer at NSFT, said on Thursday the decision to move Ms Copeman should have been made by more senior staff, rather than staff put under pressure.

He said: "No one should have to travel hundreds of miles to receive routine care.

"No, we didn't get it right, and we are determined to change that - I do want to make sure we will act now."

Mr Warren added: "I would like to formally apologise on behalf of the board to her family."

It comes on the same day that a communications manager at the NSFT bragged that the Trust had "got away" with media coverage over the death of a dementia patient.

A spokesperson for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk accused the Trust of being too focused on spin.

He said: "Mrs Copeman's death isn't a 'media issue', it was the entirely unnecessary and lonely death of an 81-year old woman on the M11."

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