Grieving son blasts change to way wardens alerted in Doncaster

A 'proud man': Tommy Corfield, 89, suffered first degree burns after slipping in the shower and was unable to raise the alarm for 10 hours.
A 'proud man': Tommy Corfield, 89, suffered first degree burns after slipping in the shower and was unable to raise the alarm for 10 hours.

AN ANGRY son has blamed the axing of Doncaster’s old people’s warden service for his late father being left suffering for 10 hours after a fall.

Tommy Corfield, an 89-year-old former miner, died in the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield 10 days after being admitted to the burns unit because of injuries caused by scalding water in his home at The Hermitage, Moorends.

Change: Alarm cords removed at The Hermitage, Moorends.

Change: Alarm cords removed at The Hermitage, Moorends.

Tommy told son John he had gone into his bathroom at 8pm for a shower.

But he fell, and set off the hot tap as he went down.

The hot water caused injuries to Tommy’s feet and back. Doctors said he had suffered seven per cent first degree burns.

Ten hours later he managed to reach a telephone to call for help.

Long alarm cords including one in the bathroom, which could have been pulled to alert the warden, had recently been removed from the property in favour of residents wearing pendant alarms around their necks.

Tommy had been issued with an alarm pendant but did not like wearing it, and instead kept it hanging on a picture in his sitting room.

His son John believes that, if the long alarm cords had remained in place, his father could have reached one of them even though he was on his hands and knees.

“Under the old system he could have pulled a cord in the bathroom and alerted the warden,” said John. “But they have taken those cords out to give the old people pendants which they are supposed to wear around their necks.

“But a lot of the residents never wear them. Besides, they are not waterproof, so they could not be worn in the shower. They would sooner have the old system.”

Tommy used to work for many years at Thorne and Rossington collieries.

John said: “My dad was an ex-miner and he was a proud man. He didn’t feel happy putting the pendant round his neck.

“He finally got to the phone at 6am the day after he fell, and tried to ring my sister, Julie Austin. But he called the wrong number.

“Luckily it was answered by another woman also called Julie - Julie Young, who runs the fruit shop in Moorends - and he said he had had a fall and was in pain. She called him back and asked who he was. She called the police and they came and broke in.

“I don’t know what the cause of dad’s death was yet. I just know that he should not have been in that pain for 10 hours.

“If he had still had the cord, the warden could have been down in 20 minutes. We can’t they at least have the cords as well as pendants?

“I also think they should not have scalding hot water in pensioners’ flats.

“Had it not been for Julie Young who picked up his phone call, he could have been suffering even longer.”

Pat Higgs, Doncaster Council’s assistant director of adult services, said: “We are very sorry to learn of the passing of Mr Corfield. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to his family at this difficult time.

“Mr Corfield was provided with a pendant alarm during the transition from the older intercom system during late 2010. Our records indicate he used the pendant successfully on two occasions this year.

“While the pendants are splash-proof they are not fully waterproof. We therefore advise residents to keep their pendants close at hand while bathing.”