Council cash shortage leaves woman, 84, stranded in hospital

By Surrey and Hants News in Local People

An Oakhanger pensioner has been left in hospital for almost three months because the local council cannot arrange the care package it says she needs.

Christine Cozens, 84, broke her ankle in February and was admitted to Basingstoke Hospital and from there transferred to Petersfield Hospital, where she picked up an infection. She was moved to the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth and has been there ever since, despite being told that she could come home as long as there are two carers in to help her four times a day. However, there are no carers available to help her.

Peter Cozens, 88, her husband of 64 years, told The Messenger: “She was told she could come out of hospital as long as we have an electric adjustable bed and a rotunda which she can use to stand up and pivot round, and two carers coming in four times a day. Hampshire County Council has given us the bed and the rotunda but there are not enough carers to come out to her.”

The situation means that Christine is remaining in a bed which the hospital needs for other patients. The cost of keeping someone in hospital is estimated to be around £400 per day, while the cost of two carers coming in four times a day is around £160 a day.

Peter says he feels that the local council should be footing the bill for carers.

“The Conservative council talks about care in the community but there is none,” he said.

“I hear that the council has all these millions in reserve, and they should use it. It’s the public’s money, it’s not the council’s.”

Peter, who has his own health problems, travels from his home in Oakhanger to Portsmouth every day to see Christine, relying on his daughter and on neighbours to take him or paying £26 for a hospital car.

“Whenever I get there my wife says: ‘Can you take me home?’ but I can’t. I can’t look after her. I have carers in every other day to help me wash, and they are very good, but they can’t come in four times every day for my wife. Social services are on the case but they say there is no-one available so she is stuck in hospital blocking a bed.”

The situation is taking its toll on Peter as well as Christine. “Sometimes I think about getting all my pills out and just taking them,” he said.

“I’m so worried that being in hospital will affect my wife’s mind. She is getting so depressed and just wants to come home. She would be perfectly OK at home with help and she has the perfect right to be in her own home.”

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “We are very sorry that Mrs Cozens has been unable to return home following her medical treatment. We work very hard to ensure that people who are medically fit to leave hospital are supported to get back home as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, in many parts of the county, there is a shortage of carers, and while we are doing everything we can to increase recruitment, it can mean that regrettably some people who need social care support before they can return home safely will experience delays before being able to do so.”