‘You have peo­ple dy­ing and not get­ting what they need’

WW2 vet­eran was told there was no cash for pal­lia­tive care

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - by Kather­ine Cle­men­tine kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A WIDOW has hit out at Hilling­don’s Care Com­mis­sion­ing Group for not spend­ing thou­sands of pounds – whilst her dy­ing hus­band needed pal­lia­tive care.

Armelle Thomas, from Har­mondsworth, has vowed that beloved hus­band Tommy ‘will not die in vain’, by en­sur­ing no one in Hilling­don bor­ough goes through the same or­deal.

Mrs Thomas, who cared for her hus­band at their home in his fi­nal days, was told by a nurse that ‘some­one else had to die’ so that Tommy could re­ceive the pal­lia­tive care he was de­nied.

The home visit nurse ex­plained that they do the best they can, but the money wasn’t there.

Mr Thomas, a ‘kind, mod­est and car­ing’ RAF WW2 vet­eran, died aged 93 on Au­gust 29.

Since his death, Mrs Thomas was ‘in­censed’ to find out, at a pub­lic meet­ing, that there was a sur­plus in CCG spend­ing of more than one and a half mil­lion pounds by De­cem­ber last year that wasn’t be­ing spent on pri­mary care in those months.

She said: “I went ab­so­lutely berserk, when I found out that in De­cem­ber there was £1.6 mil­lion in re­serve in pri­mary care.

“So I wanted to go back to Au­gust to find out how much money was there when Tommy was dy­ing.”

In Au­gust CCG’s bud­get broke even, but by Septem­ber they had a sur­plus of £391,000, which grew to £2m by Fe­bru­ary this year.

Mrs Thomas con­tin­ued: “They started ac­cu­mu­lat­ing money al­most as soon as Tommy died.

“It was bad enough hear­ing there was no money, but find­ing out there was £1.6 mil­lion un­spent in pri­mary care...

“It is their re­spon­si­bil­ity to spend it, the CCG have the money and don’t know how to spend it. So you have peo­ple dy­ing and they’re not get­ting what they need.”

Mrs Thomas be­lieves the CCG is re­spon­si­ble for the fail­ures, in not giv­ing care and be­ing de­nied a vi­tal piece of equip­ment, as they are the ones who get the money from the De­part­ment of Health.

“When [the CCG] started mak­ing sur­plus or break­ing even they should’ve gone to the Cen­tral and North West Lon­don NHS Foun­da­tion Trust [CNWL], who sup­ply the ser­vices on be­half of the CCG, and said ‘We’ve got this money com­ing in now, what do you want and where is it you’re lack­ing?’, and at least have a dis­cus­sion.”

“I have ac­tu­ally said that to Maria O’Brien [CNWL’s di­vi­sional di­rec­tor]. It’s not their money, it’s ours, it’s taxes, so I blame the CCG com­pletely.”

A spokesper­son for Hilling­don CCG has replied to Mrs Thomas’ con­cerns.

They said: “One of our pri­or­i­ties is to im­prove end of life care ser­vices so that pa­tients are iden­ti­fied ear­lier and bet­ter sup­port is pro­vided to their car­ers and loved ones.

“Mrs Thomas raised a num­ber of is­sues con­cern­ing staff com­mu­ni­ca­tion and avail­abil­ity of equip­ment. The CCG and se­nior staff at CNWL have met Mrs Thomas to dis­cuss her hus­band’s case and what we all need to learn from it.

“She has come along to tell her story at a re­cent event with CNWL staff so they can hear at first hand the is­sues she has raised and learn from her ex­pe­ri­ences.”

The CNWL have asked Mrs Thomas what she would like to hap­pen in the fu­ture.

She said: “I want what hap­pened to me to never hap­pen to any­one else in Hilling­don ever again and for ev­ery­one to get the best pos­si­ble care and for the fam­ily mem­ber to be able to die at home whilst get­ting the best care.

“The NHS con­sti­tu­tion says the NHS must ac­cept when they are wrong and deal with it. And Maria O’Brien has been won­der­ful to me and said ‘We got it wrong’.

“If this gets taken on board, Tommy hasn’t died in vain and that’s what’s most im­por­tant to me.

“I’m so an­gry, I can’t grieve prop­erly and the only way to get past this is to be con­struc­tive.”

The CNWL deny that Mrs Thomas wasn’t given equip­ment but replied to all her other con­cerns.

A spokesman said: “Mrs Thomas ap­proached us with con­cerns fol­low­ing the death of her hus­band.

“Although she was un­der­stand­ably up­set and griev­ing, she wanted us to hear her, and act on her con­cerns so that other peo­ple might ben­e­fit.

“Mrs Thomas bravely spoke at an ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing event for about 40 of our staff, and it was a very good meet­ing – staff heard her story first hand and this had a pow­er­ful ef­fect on them.

“Mrs Thomas wants the best pos­si­ble use of re­sources so asks many per­ti­nent ques­tions which ex­plore wider is­sues.”

It was bad enough hear­ing there was no money but find­ing out there was £1.6m un­spent in pri­mary care...”

Jon Mikol

n ‘INCENSESED’: Armelle Thomas (inset) doesn’t want oth­ers to be need­lessly de­prived of pal­lia­tive care like her hus­band Tommy Thomas (inset)

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