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Haverhill widow feels let down by ambulance service

Irene Farrant pictured with her late husband Ben in 2015
Irene Farrant pictured with her late husband Ben in 2015

The widow of a Haverhill man who missed numerous hospital appointments because the ambulance service failed to provide transport is still fighting for an adequate explanation for what happened - eight months after his death.

Ben Farrant died in Addenbrooke’s Hospital on June 17, aged 70, just 32 days after he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Just a few weeks after he died his widow, Irene, of Bishops Court, Haverhill, began writing letters to various health organisations in an attempt to get a full explanation for the many failures by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) to provide the necessary transport to get him to appointments at Addenbrooke’s that had been arranged by their GP – usually weeks in advance.

Mrs Farrant, 70, believes she is yet to get a proper explanation, saying: “I’m trying to get answers and I can’t get any for why the transport never turned up and they’ve always got an excuse.”

Mrs Farrant had a letter from EEAST last October, in which it explained that its contract with the West Suffolk CCG did not cover the use of the specialist bariatric ambulance journeys required by Mr Farrant, who couldn’t walk for his final two-and-a-half years.

This meant, said the trust, it had to find a private provider, and they often proved to be unavailable or, on one occasion, had to cancel due to staff sickness.

Mrs Farrant said: “They kept saying they had not got the transport or they were sick. To me they’ve not explained anything in those letters, they’ve not explained anything at all.”

Mr Farrant, a father of two and grandfather of four, was diagnosed with MND by consultant neurologist Dr Ryan Roberts at Addenbrooke’s ‘within 15 minutes’ of being seen, but they had been waiting for many months to see him due to the many cancellations.

Mrs Farrant said her husband would have endured less suffering and pain had he been diagnosed sooner.

She said: “Dr Roberts said he wished he had got him earlier because he could have helped him, especially with the pain.

“In the finish he (Ben) gave up. He had had enough.”

Mrs Farrant also believes the ambulance staff didn’t want to collect Ben because the steps outside their house made it difficult to get the wheelchair down and into the ambulance.

She said: “They pick and choose who they want. To me they think they are God. They can’t pick and choose who they take into hospital.”

An EEAST spokesman said: “We received a complaint from this patient in October last year and have responded to the complaint.

“We have not had any contact from the Health Service Ombudsman.”

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