Cambridgeshire

Patricia Gavaghan died 'after 11-day boiler repair wait'

Patricia Gavaghan Image copyright Gavaghan family
Image caption Patricia Gavaghan died after waiting 11 days for a boiler repair

A "stressed, angry and cold" pensioner died of a heart attack following an 11-day wait for her boiler to be repaired, an inquest has heard.

Patricia Gavaghan, 80, died at her home, which was maintained by Morgan Sindall, in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, on 22 December 2017.

She asked a call handler at the firm if she was "meant to sit in her coat" and wait, the court was told.

At the time there was an amber weather warning due to a prolonged cold spell.

The hearing at Huntingdon Law Courts was told Mrs Gavaghan lived alone in Sycamore Road, in a bungalow owned by Clarion Housing and maintained by Morgan Sindall.

Her family claimed the boiler system was more than 15 years old and engineers struggled to get parts to make repairs.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Mrs Gavaghan lived alone in Sycamore Road, Whittlesey

Mark Waterhouse, of Morgan Sindall, told the inquest the company took on the maintenance contract in October 2017 and call handlers were "unable to cope" with the high number of inquiries.

The firm expected to take an average of 1,870 calls a month - but received 6,079 that October.

He said the firm's target of sending an engineer out within 24 hours could not be achieved in Mrs Gavaghan's case and an appointment was given for 11 days' time.

An engineer had been due to attend her home on the day she died but "ran out of time", he added.

Mrs Gavaghan should have been given priority because of her age and the fact she lived alone, the court heard.

Consultant cardiologist Dr William Davies said the fact Mrs Gavaghan was "stressed, angry and cold" meant she was vulnerable to heart attack "triggers" caused by "high levels of adrenalin".

Mr Waterhouse apologised "unreservedly" to her family for failing to provide the "proper service" she was "entitled to and fully deserved".

The inquest continues.

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