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Friday 29 August 2014

OAP 'left in agony' before death

Published 07/02/2013 | 08:38

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Police are investigating the death of an elderly woman who was left without care in her own home for nine days

An elderly woman who died after she was left without care in her own home for nine days must have been in "agony", a friend has said.

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Police are investigating the death of Gloria Foster, 81, who was found dehydrated and starving after going without the four daily visits she was supposed to have.

She had been receiving help at her house in Banstead, Surrey, from Carefirst24, but Surrey County Council became responsible for her care after a number of its workers were arrested last month following a UK Border Agency (UKBA) raid.

Her friend Ann Penston said she was fighting to find answers for why Mrs Foster died as "she deserves somebody to answer for her".

In an interview with BBC Surrey Ms Penston described what happened as "horrendous". She said: "From the information I have found out, the police and the UK Border Agency passed all the information on to Surrey County Council and Sutton Council. I've also been told that Sutton Council are in the clear. So one must assume that somebody has picked up a bundle of papers and missed the vital information. My name and number must have been somewhere."

Mrs Foster was discovered by a nurse on a routine visit to her home but she died in hospital on Monday. "She was too far gone," Ms Penston said, adding: "None of us expect to go out of this world singing and dancing but nor do you expect be left in what I suspect was agony."

Ms Penston, who described Mrs Foster as a "gregarious person" who "would sit down and chat with anybody", said she had power of attorney over the elderly woman so Carefirst24 would always get in touch with her whenever something needed to be done.

Ms Penston's voice broke up as she added: "I'm staying strong and focused because I want Gloria's ... she deserves somebody to answer for her, going this way. That's what I'm trying to focus on. I want to deal with it properly and I don't want to get highly emotional and appear to cry my eyes out, but inside I am."

A police spokesman said: "Concerns surrounding Gloria's care were raised to Surrey Police at the end of January by staff at the hospital where she died on Monday February 4, and officers are now looking into the circumstances surrounding her death. The Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board has also been convened and they are conducting a parallel investigation."

A spokesman for UKBA said officials met local authorities ahead of the raid to warn them of what they were going to do so they could arrange alternative care for the company's clients. Its officers arrested six people, including a Mauritian man and a Filipino man and woman, on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to assist foreign nationals at Carefirst24's headquarters in Upper Mulgrave Road, Sutton, on January 15 and at a separate south London address the day before. All those arrested were later bailed until various dates in April.

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