Mental health boss cleared of lying during inquest

Peggy Copeman died on the side of the road of the M11 while being transported back to Norwich from D

Peggy Copeman died on the side of the road of the M11 while being transported back to Norwich from Devon. A family photograph from her 80th birthday in September 2018. Picture: Fulcher family - Credit: Archant

A mental health boss has been cleared of lying during an inquest into the death of an 81-year-old who died by the M11 while being driven between hospitals.

The grandmother, from New Buckenham, died on December 16, 2019, on the M11 while being driven back to Norfolk from Taunton.

She had been sent 280 miles away for mental health treatment by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) because of a lack of beds.

Jacqueline Lake, senior coroner for Norfolk, gave a narrative conclusion on June 25 following evidence from the family as well as the NSFT and other organisations.

Norfolk's new coroner Jacqueline Lake.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Norfolk's senior coroner Jacqueline Lake. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Mrs Lake said: "Peggy Copeman died from a fatal ventricular arrhythmia as a result of ischemic heart disease. Her death has been escalated by a short time by not being recognised and acted on whilst being transported on December 16 2019."

On the day she gave her conclusion, the final piece of evidence was given by Susan Graham, NSFT service director, who discussed a report that followed into the lack of beds available in Norfolk and Suffolk.

That was the reason Mrs Copeman was transferred out of the county. 

Mrs Graham claimed no older adults had been sent out of the county since Mrs Copeman's death. 

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But Mrs Copeman's daughter and son-in-law, Maxine and Nick Fulcher, from North Lopham, questioned the evidence of Mrs Graham, highlighting a freedom of information (FoI) request about older people being taken out of area by NSFT for mental health care.

In a review hearing at Norfolk Coroner's Court on August 4, Mrs Lake said the FoI revealed the trust had sent two elderly people out of area - one in October 2020 and another the following April.

But she said: "I have considered the evidence by Mrs Graham and the concerns raised by family. I'm of the view that the evidence from Mrs Graham doesn't amount to perjury. Mrs Graham has given the truth."

The coroner added that, from evidence by Mrs Graham, beds in Suffolk were used because the introduction of 21 beds at Norwich's Julian Hospital were delayed.

Nick and Maxine Fulcher from North Lopham have been struggling to get the right care for their son K

Nick and Maxine Fulcher from North Lopham. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

After the inquest Mr Fulcher said: "We are hurt we didn't get a chance to say goodbye. It is still horrific for us."


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