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BBC News: Covid-19: Patient gets virus after 240-mile hospital move

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Nikki Fox, Health Correspondent of the BBC, reports:

A woman said she was “very angry” after her elderly mother caught Covid-19 following a move to a hospital hundreds of miles away.

Kay Cantell said her mother Kathleen, 73, was transferred from Norfolk to Darlington in September.

“I was very angry to think that she’s gone up to Darlington and she’s got Covid. That was shocking,” she said.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust apologised for not informing her of her mother’s move sooner.

Transporting Kathleen Cantell to Darlington was disgraceful.

Failing to tell Kathleen’s family what was happening is disgraceful.

Kathleen Cantell catching Covid is shocking.

But this situation was inevitable after Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) closed more than one hundred beds, including large numbers of beds for the elderly and the repeated breaking of promises by both NSFT and NHS commissioners in Norfolk and Waveney during the radical redesign to keep wards open until it was shown the beds were no longer needed and to address the beds crisis.

Let’s not forget Peggy Copeman, 81, who died alone on the hard shoulder of the M11 just before Christmas of last year.

Or Neil Jewell.

Or many other victims of the cuts, incompetence and denials of the NSFT Board and management.

On 23 September, her daughter received a call saying the stay was not working out, but that no beds were available back at Northgate.

The caller said Mrs Cantell was being transferred to a private hospital near Darlington, 240 miles (386km) away.

“She was on her way as I got the phone call. We didn’t have time to say goodbye to her,” said Ms Cantell.

“I was shocked. I was surprised, absolutely devastated. And I was so worried for mum, because I know she’d be feeling frightened and she’d want to see me and my brother.

“I broke down in tears at work. It was awful.”

This is the human cost of NSFT’s inhumanity.

Stuart Richardson, NSFT’s disastrous Chief Operating Officer and the disgraceful appointment as his deputy, Amy Eagle, who played a key role in the horrendous radical redesign but was nonetheless re-employed on a massive salary, are directly and personally responsible for the transportation of people across the UK. Between them, they cost the NHS at least a quarter of a million pounds per year.

NSFT is not clinically-led.

NSFT’s Board and management choses to waste millions and millions of pounds on bureaucracy, redundancy payments, elusive executives who don’t even work for NSFT or live anywhere near Norfolk and Suffolk, dissembling spin doctors, management consultants, still more care groups, deputies, cheerleader People Participation Leads, refurbishing Airey Court without purpose, staff or patients and nepotistic appointments of unqualified or inexperienced mates to highly-paid nonjobs throughout the organisation.

NSFT needs to spend money on experienced and qualified front line staff.

NSFT needs to re-open the beds it closed.

NSFT needs to restore decent community services and specialist teams closed by Amy Eagle.

NSFT’s overpaid and underperforming managers need to be held accountable for their repeated failures.

NSFT’s real front line staff need to be empowered.

There must be genuine and unconditional involvement of patients, service users, carers and the bereaved.

Confidence and the morale of patients, carers and front line staff needs to be restored by removing the failed management. First on our list for removal would be Stuart Richardson and Amy Eagle. It is a long list. Front line staff at NSFT know who needs to be sacked. And none of them should receive a ‘reward for failure’.

NSFT’s Board and management can’t understand why the mental health trust can neither recruit nor retain staff. Yet, the answer is simple. People who care about mental health do not want to work for people who don’t.

Mrs Cantell’s family has not been able to see her since.

Her daughter said she had received confirmation from the private Priory Hospital Middleton St George, near Darlington, that her mother had Covid-19.

“I feel sick inside because I don’t know what’s going to happen to mum,” she said.

The BBC understands Mrs Cantell contracted Covid-19 in the past week.

NSFT is currently fiddling its bed numbers.

It is no longer including patients transported to Southern Hill, the remote private hospital that took over the failed Mundesley Hospital after it was closed by Care Quality Commission.

NSFT claims the 16 beds it no longer counts at Southern Hill are being block-booked because of Covid-19 but it filled the beds at Southern Hills and then increased the number to an astonishing 21 beds without telling anybody during the lull in Covid during the summer. Now there are patients with Covid at both the Hellesdon and Julian hospitals but NSFT has no capacity because it has failed to address the beds crisis for years and has used the beds which were supposed to provide ‘flexibility’ during the pandemic to fiddle its bed statistics.

The beds at Southern Hill are costing NSFT and taxpayers a fortune. At the average cost of a private bed reported by NSFT to NHS Digital, the 21 beds at Southern Hill will be costing more than £350,000 per month or £4,200,000 per year. That’s about twice what NHS beds would cost. We can’t give the exact cost as NSFT refuses to disclose the details even under the Freedom of Information Act. Invoices from Southern Hill appear to be being broken into small amounts to avoid disclosure under NSFT’s duty to disclose payments over £25,000.

Yet Southern Hill represents only about one half of the people out of trust at NSFT – for most of October, the number out of trust was nearly fifty, even if NSFT claims it was only half that with its attempted deception.

We’ll leave the last word to the family of Peggy Copeman:

At the trust’s annual general meeting on 9 October, Dr Dalton pledged to try to stop patients, particularly those who were frail or elderly, from being sent out of the trust area.

Mrs Copeman’s son-in-law Nick Fulcher said news of Mrs Cantell’s transfer felt like a “kick in the teeth”.

“I was told by the trust on Monday that no older person was out of area. Then I get to hear this and I just feel so sad, shocked heartbroken that some other family’s going through what we went through,” he said.

“We’ve got a trust we cannot trust.”

Click on the image below to read the story in full on the BBC News website:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-54732532
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