An elderly couple were found dead in the above house in a suburb of Nottingham last Thursday. They were last seen on 2 January. A concerned neighbour looked through the letter box, after she couldn't get a response to ringing the bell and found 76 year-old Derek Randall lying dead in the hallway.
His disabled wife of 79 was found dead in her bed. The house was 'freezing cold'. The couple may have been dead for five days.
Mr Randall first approached a neighbour for help on 30 November. The first calls to different agencies started on 1 December and at least 15 calls were made by neighbours. On 21 December neighbour Heather Footit feared there was a danger that the couple could die and told local labour MP Sally Keeble. She demanded action but nothing was done.
Mrs Keeble said the couple's plight would have come to the attention of the authorities two years ago when Mrs Randall went into hospital for a hip replacement. After that, she added, arrangements for providing assistance, such as adapting their private-owned home or providing carers, should have been straightforward. No improvement were made.
Mrs Footit, 73, who regularly delivered hot meals to the pair, said she had noticed Mr Randall's health had deteriorated rapidly. She said she had warned the county council, health officials and Age Concern who told her the case was none of her business because she was not a relative of the Randalls.
This is the result of a labour Britain. They boast about the services they provide for all of us but when we try to access these services they pass the buck. Let's not forget here caring neighbours continually tried to get help for this couple for two months.
As well as the behaviour of the quango Age Concern, what more did the MP do other than make a telephone call or two? Did she follow it up to ensure that Mr and Mrs Randall did receive help? Possibly not. After all she was on her holidays.
Let's not forget most of Northamptonshire County Council would have been on their holidays too from 23 December until 4 January. Age Concern's chief executive's response was, "It seems there was not enough information in that referral so the staff involved went back to the county council for more details." What more detail do these people need other than to know many people contacted them to express their deep concern about an elderly couple, one unable to look after herself, needing help?
The neighbours who attempted to get help must be feeling dreadful and guilty perhaps too that they didn't 'do enough'. They did.
The people who should be feeling the guilt are the County Council, the local MP and Age Concern. I can hear the verdict of the council's inquiry already. "Lessons will be learned." It's long past time these agencies and quangos were forced to interact with each other and treat cases such as this with urgency. Sadly it's too late for the Randalls.