From 2008: Private Eye on Bupa’s Reluctance to Apologise and the Explain the Death of One Woman’s Mother

Five years ago Private Eye carried this story about Bupa’s attempts to silence Dee Sedgwick and its reluctance to provide an apology and explanation for the death of her mother from the treatment she received at Highfield, one of its care homes in Halesworth in Suffolk.

‘Bupa

A Sorry Tale

News that Bupa chief executive Val Gooding is stepping down and leaving Britain’s largest private healthcare provider “in rude health” has angered one former client who has battled with the company for years over the death of her mother.

Three years ago the Eye reported how Bupa threatened legal action to halt Dee Sedgwick’s efforts to extract an apology and explanation for the company’s neglectful treatment of her mother, Joan Gaddes, in one of its care homes.

Mrs Gaddes, aged 82, had died in hospital in September 2002, a month after being admitted from Highfield, a residential home in Halesworth, Suffolk, suffering dehydration and weight loss. Pressure sores on her back and heels had become gangrenous.

In the weeks and days leading up to Mrs Gaddes’ admission to hospital, her daughter had expressed concerns about her failing health and loss of eight and about the company’s failure to do anything meaningful to reduce summer heatwave temperatures within the home. She had even asked for her mother to be placed on a drip because she appeared so dehydrated, only to be told it wasn’t necessary.

Angry that the care home and managers did not appear to be taking her complaints seriously Mrs Sedgwicfk had written to Bupa’s senior executives, including Val Gooding, at their homes, setting out her grievances. Bupa’s initial response was a hand delivered letter from City law firm Roseblatts, threatening legal action for harassment of staff who said they felt “threatened”. Undeterred, Mrs Sedgwick decided she too would deliver her letters by hand as well as by fax. “Quite frankly I would have liked them to take me to court to get a public airing of my complaints. But they were never going to do that,” she told the Eye.

Instead Bupa finally agreed to fund legal representation for the family and have a round table meeting with Paul Newton of Bupa’s legal department and Matthew Flinton, head of care services. Val Gooding was said to be on the end of a phone should it prove necessary.

The result? A three-page detailed letter of regret and apology, a damning indictment of the home’s care of Mrs Gaddes and a final vindication of Mrs Sedgwick’s prolonged fax and letter campaign to Bupa’s chiefs.

Bupa admitted not properly monitoring changes in her eight and health; not properly assessing her nutritional needs and fluid intake; and not taking proper care to ensure she did not develop pressure sores. “Had your mother’s weight loss and fluid intake requirements been properly assessed and monitored, it may have led to your mother’s health having been more closely monitored by the NHS. We apologise for this failure.”

It also went on to apologise for not carrying out an assessment before she entered Highfield, which Mrs Sedgwick maintained was not suited to caring for Mrs Gaddes, who had mild to moderate dementia; for losing her belongings including her false teeth; for not taking adequate steps to ameliorate the heatwave conditions at the home; for “unsatisfactory” administration of her medication; and for initially failing to provide key documents to those carrying out the independent inspections because they were “missing”.

“We also regret and apologise for the length of time, which it has taken to provide you and your family with appropriate resolution in respect of your concerns,” said the letter. It had taken five years.

Unfortunately Mrs Sedgwick’s battle is not quite over. The Commission for Social Care Inspection has completed no fewer than six versions of its report into Mrs Gaddes’ care, which Mrs Sedgwick says has failed to get to grips with what went wrong at Highfield – not least because the CSCI dismissed some of her complaints that have now been admitted by Bupa.’

Another example of horrific malpractice by one of the private firms hoping to take business from the dismantled NHS. Bupa’s refusal to respond to Mrs Sedgwick’s letters to them on the grounds that this was ‘harassment’ also sounds terribly familiar. Oh yes, it’s the reason the DWP under Ian Duncan Lies is not answering queries about the number of disabled people, who have committed suicide due to their assessment by Atos. It seems to be another trick the Conservatives have picked up from their friends in the private sector.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “From 2008: Private Eye on Bupa’s Reluctance to Apologise and the Explain the Death of One Woman’s Mother”

  1. sp4mf15h Says:

    I think showing the failing of private healthcare firms is a great idea. With the propaganda assault on the NHS by the Tories at the moment I feel it is only fair to respond by pointing out just how much worse things would be in a for profit run business.
    Alas the whole anti-NHS thing has the backing of the full Tory party whereas the fight-back seems to be in the hands of a few bloggers n activists. I want to see the supposed opposition doing some opposing for once. Why doesn’t Labour start attcking the much more obvious failings of private healthcare to give the public a foretaste of what is to come.
    As long as the public only hear one side of the story then yes they will be swayed by yet another Tory mis-information campaign.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks, I’m glad you like what I’m trying to do.

      And yes, I really wish that Labour would actually do some opposing. Unfortunately, New Labour is responsible for some of the privatisation of the NHS, though not to the same extent as the Tories. The current Labour leadership, Milliband, Ed Balls and others, were part of New Labour and still have some of the Neo-Liberal mindset. Until there are some changes in Labour’s front bench and MIlliband and co stop trying to appeal to the same voters as the Tories, I’m afraid this pro-privatisation propaganda campaign will continue.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: