Terminally ill Romford woman, 68, is “ineligible” for flat with garden - despite letters from doctor and nurse

PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 July 2012

Anne Cox stands in the stairwell up to her flat in Romford.(photo: Rick Findler)

Anne Cox stands in the stairwell up to her flat in Romford.(photo: Rick Findler)

Copyright to Rick Findler. 07816 352047.

A wheelchair-bound Romford woman is forced to spend half an hour navigating 36 concrete steps every time she goes out – because Havering Council won’t move her to a flat that meets her needs.

Wheelchair-bound grandmother Anne Cox, 64, suffers from lung cancer and uses portable oxygen. She lives with her daughter and carer Leeann. Her flat, in Macclesfield House, Dagnam Park Drive, has no wheelchair access – and the bathroom doesn’t fit more than one person, meaning Leeann has to wash her mother in the bedroom.

“We’ve been asking for meetings with the council for three months,” said Leeann, 39. “All my mum’s assessments are done over the phone – I want them to come and see how we live, but not one person has had the courtesy to come.”

Because of her breathing problems, doctors told Ms Cox - who is also epileptic - she needed a property with a garden so she could get outside for regular fresh air.

But the council says she isn’t eligible for one – despite letters to the contrary from her oncologist and a Macmillan nurse.

As a result, she is stuck up two flights of stairs and hasn’t been out in weeks.

“I can’t get out,” said the former Post Office telephonist. “I go to the hospital and by the time I come home and get up the stairs I can hardly breathe. I went to the hospital three weeks ago and I haven’t been out since.

“If I had a garden on the ground floor I’d be able to get out because I’ve got a wheelchair. If I could sit out in the garden it would make a lot of difference.”

Cllr Lesley Kelly, Havering’s cabinet member for housing, said the council knew Ms Cox needed a ground-floor property but disputed her claim to a garden. “We currently have over 8,000 people on our waiting list,” he said. “Demand for properties with a garden is high and normally held for families with young children. Ms Cox will be able to bid for properties that have shared access or communal grounds.”

But Leeann said a communal garden wouldn’t meet her mother’s needs. “So my mum’s got to sit out there with oxygen on and explain to everyone that she’s dying of cancer?” she said. “She’s embarrassed.”

Ms Cox’s cousin Paula Smith added: “People underneath complain about the noise from the oxygen machine. If they put her in a block with children, how are they going to put up with the noise?

“The steps into front of the building haven’t even got a handrail. The occupational therapist is disgusted that the council isn’t willing to give her a house.”

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