Mental health trust promises patient’s return to Norfolk from Darlington

Kathleen Cantell, 73, was transferred to a hospital in Darlington after a stint at a Cromer care hom

Kathleen Cantell, 73, was transferred to a hospital in Darlington after a stint at a Cromer care home did not work out. Photo: Submitted - Credit: Archant

A patient who caught coronavirus when transferred 240 miles for care has been “promised” by the region’s mental health service she will return to Norfolk on Monday - despite initial assurances she’d be home three days earlier.

Kay Cantell has been fighting for the return of her 73-year-old mother, Kathleen, since she was transferred to Darlington from Great Yarmouth by the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) for bipolar disorder treatment last month.

Ms Cantell said: “I’ve been keeping the pressure on NSFT ever since mum was moved, and the NSFT chief medical officer Dr Dan Dalton told me she was his priority.

“I received a call from her on Thursday telling me she’d be on her way home on Friday. My brother is undergoing cancer treatment, and the news really lifted his spirits.

“But when Friday came, I got another call saying she wasn’t on her way home after all. This was despite me receiving assurances in writing from Dr Dalton that there was definitely a bed at Northgate available for mum.

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“It’s scandalous the way they built our expectations up like that only to dash them completely. We haven’t seen mum in months and she was so excited to be back near us all.”

In a statement, Dr Dalton said: “We want every patient to receive their care as close to home as possible, and we have apologised to Kathleen and her family that this didn’t happen on this occasion.

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“We carefully consider every decision to place a patient out-of-area and review our beds daily so we can move people back to a ward close to home as soon as we can.”

Ms Cantell said she was given a renewed promise by the trust that her mum would be coming home at the beginning of next week.

She said: “It has been confirmed by Dr Dalton that mum is coming back Monday, but prior to this, mum’s social worker rang me to tell there are no beds here. There’s obviously a communication problem between everyone involved.

“Why would anyone tell her she was coming home on Friday if she wasn’t? I’m sure she will be fine until then, but there’s every possibility she could have reacted badly.”

The Trust said that a myriad of factors is involved when transferring someone back to an NSFT bed - some of which are out of its control.

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