Details have just emerged about the undignified death of grandmother Peggy Copeman, 81, which highlights the chronic shortage of mental health beds across the country, her grief-stricken family says.
Peggy Copeman’s devastated family says her undignified death highlights the chronic shortage of mental health beds across the country. The 81-year-old had suffered periodically from schizophrenia for decades and had recently begun to experience vascular dementia.
She died after suffering a suspected heart attack on the M11, near Cambridge, just days before Christmas. Only four days earlier, she had been moved almost 300 miles to a hospital in Taunton, Somerset, because a bed couldn’t be found closer to her home in Norfolk.
The gran, who is survived by her husband Neville, 85, died during the long drive to the Julian Hospital in Norwich, where a bed had finally become available, on December 16.
Mrs Copeman’s grief-stricken daughter, Maxine Fulcher, 56, told the Mail on Sunday: “The way she was treated was just awful.
‘I put my trust in people to look after her – to take her somewhere to get better – but Taunton was too far for her to go.
“It shows we have no respect for elderly people any more. As a society, we don’t care.”
Mrs Copeman’s son-in-law, Nick Fulcher, 59, claims she was unfit to make the return journey to Norfolk because she had developed a urinary tract infection in Taunton. He added: “If she had not been sent down to Taunton, I can categorically state she would still be with us.”
A spokesman for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are very sorry about Mrs Copeman’s death.
“We will be working to investigate the circumstances and we will keep the family informed.” The Trust said it was seeking to increase the number of mental health beds in the region. It also said it had reduced the number of patients being treated outside the two counties from 71 in the spring to ten just before Christmas.