March 10 2014 Latest news:
by Francesca Elliott, Reporter
Sunday, December 8, 2013
A dying pensioner was left without heating in her Harold Hill council flat for more than a week following a gas meter mix-up.
Frail 72-year-old Ellen Eden, who has cancer, was last week discharged from hospital where she was treated for pneumonia to return to her flat in Petersfield Close on one of the coldest weeks of the year.
Havering Council’s social services, who had been dealing with her care, mistakenly believed she had heating.
The bedridden pensioner, who has been in and out of hospital with pneumonia and chest infections for the past five weeks, needed hot water bottles and blankets to keep warm.
Problems started for Mrs Eden and husband Ken when a pay-as-you go meter was installed by British Gas on November 19 along with £10 credit.
However, when that credit ran out, the couple was unable to buy more because they had not been issued with a meter key or top-up card.
She said: “I’ve never felt so bad, I can’t get out of bed. I’m freezing, I need help, I’m dying from cancer and I can’t even keep warm.”
Ken had opened the gas meter with pliers to check their credit limit while Ellen was in hospital and found it empty.
“I told social services at the hospital that my flat had no heating and the window handles were broken, meaning I couldn’t shut the windows properly, but they told me to go home,” added Ellen.
“So I’ve been in bed covered in blankets and hot water bottles for nine days. I’ve still got pains in my chest.”
A council spokesman said Mrs Eden’s husband had told them the couple had access to heating, which they deny.
Mrs Eden, who requires two carers a day to help her, has an aggressive form of ovarian cancer which has seen her haemorrhaging blood for nine months.
She also has arthritis and heart problems.
Following intervention from the Recorder, British Gas has provided emergency credit on the Edens’ meter, and a top-up card and key is on its way.
The council has also fixed the handles on the windows.
Catrin Millar, from British Gas, said: “There was a delay in sending a payment card to her and we are very sorry for any stress or concern that we have caused.”
Cllr Lesley Kelly said: “We will get in contact with Mrs Eden to make sure everything is working as it should be.”