Family 'still without the answers' after inquest conclusion

Nick and Maxine Fulcher released a statement following the conclusion of Peggy Copeman's inquest. 

Nick and Maxine Fulcher released a statement following the conclusion of Peggy Copeman's inquest. - Credit: Archant

"She should never have been sent so far away from her home."

These are the words of the family of Peggy Copeman following the conclusion of a five day inquest into her death

Jacqueline Lake, senior coroner for Norfolk, concluded a narrative verdict in relation to Mrs Copeman's death, but her family say they are still without the answers. 

Mrs Copeman died on December 16 2019 in a layby of the M11, while being transported back to Norfolk for mental health treatment in a private ambulance.

Speaking after the inquest, her son-in-law Nick Fulcher said: "We are grateful to the coroner for having taken the time and care this week to ask questions of those involved in the circumstances leading to Peggy's death.

"However, we are disappointed no witness was required to attend court in person. Peggy was sent out of area by the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust on a six-hour, 280-mile journey from Norfolk to Taunton. She should never have been sent so far away from her home.

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"We are disappointed with Peggy's care at Cygnet Hospital. It was shocking to hear a member of Cygnet staff who had been involved in Peggy's care inappropriately describe her as 'acting out'. We were, however, grateful to one nurse showing Peggy care and affection the day before she died despite busy covering two wards. 

"We were distraught to sit through the evidence of Cygnet and PRAS staff about how Peggy was transported from her wheelchair into the van. Unfortunately, we will never truly know what happened in that van as various different accounts were given. 

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"Tragically, the coroner concluded that Peggy's death was possibly accelerated by a short time by PRAS not recognising and acting while she was being transported on December 16.

"We might otherwise have had the opportunity to at least say goodbye to our lovely Peggy. The inquest has concluded but as a family we are still without the answers." 

Following the inquest, a spokesperson for the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, issued a statement saying it was deeply sorry for the distress caused to Mrs Copeman's family.

The spokesman said: “We want every patient to receive care as close to home as possible and we have put changes in place since this sad case, including opening an additional ward for people aged 70 and over to help us provide more beds in our local area.”

Mrs Copeman is survived by husband Neville, daughter Maxine Fulcher, son-in-law Nick, and grandchildren Melissa and Kieran.

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