Pensioner left to starve for nine days after care agency is shut down
A vulnerable pensioner was found close to death following nine days left alone in bed without medication, food, or water, after her care agency was closed in a police raid.
The woman was found by a district nurse last Thursday, with kidney failure, severe bed sores and only a faint pulse.
Surrey County Council (SCC) failed to provide alternative care for her after Sutton-based Carefirst 24 was shut down by immigration police this month leaving the woman, in her 80s, without the four daily nurse visits she needed.
The pensioner depended on the visits to her home in Banstead for medication, and other care.
The pensioner, who has lived much of her life in Sutton, is still in hospital recovering following her harrowing ordeal.
A close friend of the woman said she could not understand how she came to be left for so long.
She was only found by chance by a district nurse who popped in to visit her. The Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board, made up of representatives from the council, police, the NHS have launched an urgent inquiry.
Six people were arrested when police and the UK Border Agency raided Upper Mulgrave Road-based Carefirst 24 on Tuesday, January 15.
The agency was allegedly employing illegal immigrants under former workers' identities.
Since then Carefirst 24 has not been operating. Surrey County Council and Sutton Council, who contracted care to the company, were to work with people receiving care from it to make arrangements - but the woman slipped through SCC's net.
Sutton Council said alternative arrangements have been made for all its patients who received care from Carefirst 24.
Ann Penston, from Sutton, a friend of the woman, said: "I got a call because she'd been found dehydrated, with bedsores and in a terrible mess. They barely got a pulse from her - it was lucky the district nurse was going there for a different reason.
"How on Earth could this have been allowed to happen? How can they just close this thing down and not identify the people they were supposed to be taking care of?
"I don't know how she survived. She had a glass of water by her bed, I don't know if she managed to get up and get it but my assumption is that for she was just lying there waiting for someone to come."
A Surrey County Council spokesman said:"We're saddened to hear about this and our thoughts are with [the patient], her family and friends at the moment. The safety of vulnerable adults is our top priority. We take any concerns raised very seriously and this is being urgently looked at by the Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board."
The Local Government Ombudsman could step in to carry out a review if the investigation is deemed insufficent.