Back to Press Releases

Pensioner Missed by Carer Dies Following Agonising Six-Hour Wait for Help After Scalding Himself in Bath

Pensioner Missed by Carer Dies Following Agonising Six-Hour Wait for Help After Scalding Himself in Bath

A disabled pensioner died after he was left in a bath with severe burns for SIX hours when a carer failed to check on him.

Grandad Alan Pavitt, 79, is thought to have fallen while getting showered one morning, accidentally knocking the hot tap which poured scalding water on to his leg.

Unable to get back up, he lay helpless for hours despite a carer’s claims that she visited his flat as scheduled to make him breakfast, but didn’t think he was in. 

Mr Pavitt, from Romford, East London, who had suffered a stroke years before which affected his speech and right side, was finally discovered when the carer returned that afternoon. 

But his injuries and the kidney failure caused by loss of fluid were so severe that he died in Broomfield Hospital nine days later.

Shelley Pavitt, 43, who was married to Mr Pavitt’s son Andy and remained close to them both even after they split, said she is still haunted by the thought of her former father-in-law alone and in pain.

“That’s the hardest thing. He was on his own for all that time and he couldn’t do anything. The pain must have been unbearable,” she said.

“When we got to the hospital he was in absolute agony. There was literally no skin on his leg, it was red raw. He had been really sick because of the shock and he had lost so much fluid from the burns that he had gone into kidney failure. 

“He could have called out for help but I don’t know if he was conscious at that point. The carer said she was calling out for him and he didn’t answer, but there are only three rooms and the bathroom door wasn’t locked. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

The carer, who had been in the job just six weeks, told police she went back later to check on Mr Pavitt but could not remember the code for the key safe to get into his flat. She claimed she had called her employer, Westminster Homecare, to report her concerns from a neighbour’s phone because she had no credit on hers but said there was no answer and so she left, returning for a third time in the afternoon when she eventually found him. 

Further delays caused by failing to relay the severity of his condition to a 999 operator meant it was 4pm before he could be moved to hospital.  

A police investigation concluded that no crime had been committed, but an inquest found ‘a failure to check his whereabouts and wellbeing when a carer attended for the 10am check…resulted in a delay in his access to medical treatment’ which contributed to his death on March 31, 2016.

The family also discovered at the inquest that the carer had been fired, but says Westminster Homecare needs to do more to guard against similar incidents and have now launched their own legal action.

Shelley, who lives in Upminster close to Mr Pavitt’s home, said: “The carers were meant to come twice a day at 10am and 2pm. They were supposed to be there in the morning when he had his wash, but he was very independent and nine times out of 10 he would be done by the time they got there.

“The carer said she was late anyway because she had too many visits. She changed her statement to police a few times and we kind of accepted early on that we were never going to get all the answers, but I blame the care agency more than I blame her.

“They have not been in touch at all. They haven’t addressed it, they haven’t apologised. They just carried on like it didn’t happen and nothing changed at all.”

Mr Pavitt, a former soldier who served in Egypt helping sick and injured troops and civilians, worked for years as a postman at the Hornchurch branch where he met his late wife, Christine.

While football was a passion for the lifelong Tottenham Hotspur fan, Shelley said he also adored his family and doted on her three children, Toby, 17, Max, 12, and Talia, 10.

She added: “Before he had his stroke and before Christine died, they would often have Toby for the weekend and he would have endless patience, spending hours at a time in the park pushing him on the swings.

“He was so gentle, you couldn’t meet a nicer person. He saw the good in everyone.

“It’s hard not to think ‘what if’ I’d gone to see him that day, you go over and over it in your head.

“I think appointments are being missed all the time because carers are too busy. It’s not necessarily their fault, they just haven’t got time. It’s down to the care agencies, there needs to be something in place to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

Nicole Brendel, a clinical negligence specialist from law firm Slater and Gordon who is representing the family in a civil action against Westminster Homecare, said: “Unfortunately we are regularly contacted by people who have been failed by those who are supposed to care for them, but it’s rare that the consequences are as devastating as this.

“The elderly and vulnerable who use these companies, as well as the families who entrust their loved ones to them, must be confident that they are being properly looked after and not rushed or ignored.

“Mr Pavitt’s family cannot turn the clock back but by sharing their own painful experience they hope to stop these kind of mistakes happening to anyone else.”