‘Stressed’ Whittlesey pensioner died of heart attack after waiting nearly two weeks for boiler to be repaired, inquest hears

A “stressed” pensioner died of a heart attack three days before Christmas after waiting nearly two weeks for her boiler to be repaired, an inquest heard.

Thursday, 19th September 2019, 11:31 am

Patricia Gavaghan (80) who lived alone in Whittlesey, reported her broken boiler as an amber weather warning was put in place due to a prolonged cold spell.

An engineer had been due to attend her home on the day she died but “ran out of time”, and the great-grandmother died on December 22, 2017.

She previously asked a call handler at the firm if she was “meant to sit in her coat” and wait.

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An inquest at Huntingdon Law Courts heard Mrs Gavaghan’s bungalow was 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.

Representing Morgan Sindall, Mark Waterhouse said the company was “unable to cope” with the high number of enquiries after taking on the contract in October 2017.

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

The firm’s target of sending an engineer out within 24 hours could not be achieved and instead Mrs Gavaghan was given an appointment for 11 days’ time.

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

Dr William Davies, a consultant cardiologist, said the fact Mrs Gavaghan was “stressed, angry and cold” meant she was vulnerable to heart attack.

He said these were “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 is due to conclude today (Thursday).