Image source, Maxine Fulcher

Image caption,

Peggy Copeman was being transferred 280 miles (450km) between hospitals when she died

A private ambulance service whose staff failed to spot a grandmother’s decline as she was dying can no longer operate.

Peggy Copeman, 81, died while being transferred to Norfolk from Somerset in 2019 by Premier Rescue Ambulance Service (PRAS).

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) cancelled its registration following an inspection in September 2021.

Cath Campbell, from the CQC, said it took “enforcement action when the service was rated inadequate overall”.

Mrs Copeman, of New Buckenham in Norfolk, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in the late 1960s, and was moved into a care home in 2014 after showing signs of dementia.

It had been decided she should be transferred to the specialist Cygnet Hospital in Taunton in Somerset on 12 December 2019 for further assessment.

Four days later, she was due to be transferred the 280 miles to the Julian Hospital in Norwich after developing an infection.

Mrs Copeman died on the hard shoulder of the M11 on the Essex/Cambridgeshire border.

Mouldy seats

At an inquest into her death last year, the coroner said PRAS had failed to provide “prompt medical attention” which contributed to Mrs Copeman’s death.

The inquest heard that Mrs Copeman was sat between two ambulance workers and an expert witness was “of the firm view that the staff transporting Mrs Copeman did not recognise she was in respiratory distress and/or cardiac arrest and that she had effectively died whilst sat between them”.

The coroner said Mrs Copeman died from a cardiac arrest – which would not have been brought on by the journey – but she may have lived a little longer if a defibrillator had been used.

Before the inquest, PRAS, which is based in Taunton, had its licence suspended by the CQC after mouldy seats and food were found in its buses.

The suspension was then extended, and the CQC has now cancelled the registration of the service.

Ms Campbell said: “The provider is no longer legally allowed to carry out regulated activities.”

PRAS has been contacted for a comment.

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