Care bill hits family days before funeral

Mrs Cath Dewhurst who died in November
Mrs Cath Dewhurst who died in November

County Hall’s bereavement policy has been condemned as “heartless” for the second time in a fortnight after a daughter was hit with a cash demand three days before her mother’s funeral.

The case of 73-year-old Cath Dewhurst from Grimsargh mirrors that of Irene Kay, 88, of Longton, whose family received a bill for care charges just three days after she died.

“They’re downright ruthless - they don’t even give you time to grieve,” said Vicky Dewhurst. “After they did it to us they promised to change their system and be more considerate in future to familes in mourning. But after reading about Mrs Kay, clearly nothing has changed. It’s disgusting.”

Vicky came forward after reading the story of Mrs Kay in the Post. LCC apologised after sending a demand for £120 to Mrs Kay’s family immediately after being told she had died on May 20.

But relatives of Mrs Dewhurst were “shocked” to read it had happened again after they were assured two months earlier the council would review its policy following their bereavement.

“I sat down with a senior officer in March and he swore things would change,” said Vicky, whose mum died in November. “I’ve got a letter from LCC promising they would even give staff more training to make sure cases like this are dealt with more sensitively.”

LCC’s new cabinet member for adult services, Coun Graham Gooch, said: “I am keen to ensure that we deal with people in a thoughtful and sensitive manner, which is why I have asked officers to look at how and when we contact families of service users after they have died. The reality is that we have a duty to everyone in Lancashire to recover money owed to the council.”