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Mum with terminal cancer 'would have been left alone' if not for friends and family after NHS and social care 'mix up'

Posted on 4/12/2017 by

Catherine Sharpe 3

She was allegedly told her care funding was being stopped as she was on the way to the hospital - something social services denies

A terminal cancer patient says she would have been left to suffer alone if it wasn't for her family and friends after 'being passed from pillar to post' between the NHS and social care.

Catherine Sharpe, 55, was given two years to live in February this year after doctors found cancers in both her breasts, her spine, lymph nodes and one of her ribs.

She had been given 17.5 hours a week of care until she was taken to hospital on Thursday November 16 in extreme pain.

As she was being taken to hospital her friend and carer, Karen Da Forno, was allegedly called by Gloucestershire County Council's adult social services to tell her Catherine's care allowance was being stopped - as the NHS would be taking over her care.

But Gloucestershire County Council says Mrs Sharpe has continued to receive funding - something she and Karen deny.

They have applied to NHS Gloucestershire Care Services for help, but since Catherine was discharged after her eight-day hospital stay she has had to rely on her family and friends to care for her.

Care services has allegedly offered her two-and-a-quarter hours of care a day - which they say is simply not enough.

Now Catherine and her family are appealing for the NHS and social services to be more joined up - as they believe more people must have slipped through the net in the same way Catherine has.

Catherine, who had worked as a consultant for the Home Office with antisocial behaviour and a senior social worker in Birmingham, said: "The system is broken beyond repair. I worked all my life in socially responsible jobs to be put on the trash heap because I'm no use any more - tell me how that's right.

"I can't be the only one this is happening to in this city. We're in 2017 in the first world country and we are just left on our own..

"I'm not giving up. I refuse point blank to give up or give in."

Catherine's care assessment was due to be done in hospital but she says this was never carried out.

She can't cook, is too weak even to lift a plate, is housebound, and needs help with bathing.

Now, she is appealing for care throughout the day - far more than the 17.5 hours a week she was getting before her hospital admission- so she can enjoy the last few months of her life.

Catherine, a mother of two with four grandchildren, said: "I've got a life-shortening illness. Should I have to be sitting here worrying about how I'm going to make a coffee or go to the toilet?

"I've worked all my life and paid National Insurance and I'm not getting my old age pension. When you're terminally ill you shouldn't be worrying about how you're going to be cared for, when you've paid your dues.

"I feel like I'm on the scrapheap."

Tina Reid, director of operations for adult social care at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “The county council works to make sure those who need it have access to the right level of care, and we work with specially trained NHS therapists to help prioritise people who are at greatest risk.

“Whilst caring for Mrs Sharpe, our staff felt that she required additional health care support. When going through the health assessment with our partners Mrs Sharpe has continued to receive funding for her social care needs and is still in receipt of it today.”

A spokesman from NSH Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group added: “We are very sorry to hear of this person’s ill health.

"The Continuing Healthcare Team received a fast-track referral on November 30.

"Following a visit and assessment, continuing health care funding was approved to commence straight away.”

Source: GloucestershireLive