Healthcare cuts contributed to disabled woman's death

Amanda Richards died in the fire at her home Credit: BPM Media

Cuts to healthcare funding contributed to the death of a disabled Coventry woman, a serious case review has found.

Mother-of-two Amanda Richards lived alone and had 24-hour care at home – but that was cut to 22 hours a day following a routine review by Coventry City Council, the local NHS and her other healthcare providers.

Ms Richards, who was a smoker, was on her own when a cigarette started a fire at her Hillfields bungalow in December 2013.

The 40-year-old died in the blaze.

The scene of the fire Credit: BPM Media

The serious case review carried out after her death found the cut in healthcare support had played a major role in the tragedy.

Miss Richards suffered from a degenerative neurological disease which affected her co-ordination and meant she used a wheelchair.

The report showed there had not been an adequate risk assessment carried out into the dangers of leaving Miss Richards unsupervised for those two hours - especially in relation to her smoking habit.

The funding for Miss Richards’ healthcare at her in Kildale Close home came via a direct payment from the council, but the money was sourced from a range of areas including the local NHS - who reduced their financial contribution as a result of the healthcare review in 2011.

The report also found that relatives’ concerns about the care plan had not been properly considered.

An action plan, accompanying the serious case review, has since been reviewed by the council’s scrutiny board who felt recommended changes to council procedures did not go far enough.

The scrutiny board’s recommendations are due to be considered by the council’s cabinet member for health on October 12.