Daughter’s fury as she claims hospital blunder caused her father to suffer extensive brain damage and now family must sell home for seriously ill mother to live in same care home

PUBLISHED: 22:29 18 April 2014

Dave and Penny Barrett.

Dave and Penny Barrett.


A woman is angry that her mother, who suffers from a degenerative brain disease, is being asked to pay £1,200 a week so she can live in the same care home as her brain damaged father.

Askham Court Askham Court

Steph Gardner’s father Dave Barrett, 54, suffered brain damage after being starved of oxygen for 10-12 minutes while at Lister Hospital in Stevenage in 2010.

He is blind, wheelchair bound and can’t feed himself so he requires 24 hour care at Askham Court in Doddington.

Before his brain damage, he cared for his wife of 28 years Penny, 62, who was diagnosed six years ago with Corticobasal degeneration (CBD), a rare neurological disease which causes parts of the brain to deteriorate.

Mrs Gardner said: “In 2010 my dad contracted pneumonia and was taken to Peterborough City Hospital.

“He was given a tracheotomy at Peterborough but they needed a bed so they moved him to Lister Hospital, which did not know how to deal with that type of tracheotomy so they had to change it.

“They didn’t read the file, which said it was a tricky procedure which needed to be done in theatre.

“There, he was starved of oxygen for 10-12 minutes and left brain damaged.

“My dad used to be my mum’s carer. Now he needs 24 hour care because of neglect.”

The Barretts are involved in an ongoing court case against the hospital.

Both Mrs Gardner’s parents served in the armed forces and they ran pubs together. Mr Barrett also worked as a signalman for Network rail while Mrs Barrett worked for security firm G4S.

Mrs Barrett’s condition has significantly deteriorated due to the stress of what happened to her husband and, following a couple of nasty accidents, she was admitted to the intermediate care unit at Doddington Court Extra Care, which is run by Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust in partnership with Sanctuary Extra Care.

But she was told last week she is being discharged from the rehabilitation centre and will need to find somewhere else to live.

Mrs Barrett wants to be with her husband at Askham Court but, since the couple have assets from the sale of their home in Manea, they are not eligible for financial support.

Therefore, she would need to pay more than £60,000 a year to live with him, which she can’t afford.

Mrs Gardner said: “I think it’s a disgrace that my parents are expect to pay for their own care.

“They have both fought for Queen and country and worked all their working lives yet this is how they get treated.

“They have eight grandchildren, with another on the way, yet my father has not seen two of them since they were two months old because he went blind.

“They have no longer got the right to a family life.”

Aliyyah Nasser, operations director at Askham, said: “At Askham, we come into contact with many families who have experienced life changing circumstances. It is very challenging for all involved to adjust to their new situations, physically, emotionally, and in many cases, financially.

“We do everything we can to support families and this includes working with the funders and providers of health & social services in this area – including Doddington Court.

“We are all collectively bound by the regulations of the Care Quality Commission and also of course Health and Social Care legislation regarding individual entitlements.

“Askham Court is an award-winning purpose-built unit which is designed to facilitate the rehabilitation of people who have neurological conditions.

“The specialist equipment and the training of staff in the unit focus primarily on conditions that would be considered as Level 2 in their severity of both physical disability and cognitive behaviour.

“It is this specialist input which explains the weekly fee for residents who are typically of high dependency.

“Mrs Barrett is being assessed for admission to Askham Court later this week.

“Mr Barrett has lived at Askham Court for over two years and in this time has made significant progress in his mobility and communication abilities due to our bespoke rehabilitation package including on-site physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and hydrotherapy combined with specialist medical input. We are very pleased with his achievements.”

A Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust spokesman said: “The unit provides crisis intervention and short term rehabilitation for people, usually for periods of up to six weeks.

“Mrs Barrett’s six month programme of rehabilitation is now complete. When a patient has completed their programme of rehabilitation and is well enough to be discharged, we work with the patient, their family and county council social workers to identify any support needed following discharge.

“In this case, there was agreement that a nursing home placement was required and our county council colleagues have provided the family with information on the nursing home options available.

“We recognise that this is a sensitive time for Mrs Barrett and her family. We have extended the time available to ensure the family is fully able to consider the options.

“The trust cannot comment on funding for social care or care home placements, as this is the responsibility of Cambridgeshire County Council.”

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: “We can’t discuss the financial arrangements we have with an individual, but we are working with the family to secure the best possible outcome.”

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