‘You have people dying and not getting what they need’
WW2 veteran was told there was no cash for palliative care
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...”
n ‘INCENSESED’: Armelle Thomas (inset) doesn’t want others to be needlessly deprived of palliative care like her husband Tommy Thomas (inset)