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Brother of South Norwood house fire victim says she was let down by the health service


THE care worker brother of a schizophrenic woman who died in a house fire in South Norwood says the care system has failed his sister.

Janet Ramsey, 63, was found dead in the back lounge of her house in Waverley Road last Friday (November 14) shortly after 8pm.

Ms Ramsey had lived at the house all her life with her father and mother until their deaths four years and four months ago respectively.

Her brother Tony Ramsey – who fears his sister started the fire that killed her – said she had fallen into a deep depression coming to terms with those losses and had threatened to take her life on a number of occasions, including one failed attempt in early September.

But Ms Ramsey, who was placed at the Royal Bethlem Hospital, in Shirley, was allowed to return to the Waverley Road house alone, despite her brother's pleas not to let this happen.

Mr Ramsey, who works as a carer in Eastbourne, said: "I said 'don't send her back', she needs to go into respite or stay in Bethlem.

"I told them I didn't care how much it costs, money is no object. Just don't let her go back to the house."

Ms Ramsey was allowed to go back to the house in September where, according to neighbour Mick Edwards who was present at the visit, she told her doctor from Woodside Medical Centre she planned to end her own life.

Despite this, she was allowed to remain at the property with three daily visits from carers from Eleanor Home Care.

A meeting to find her shared accommodation was due to take place in early December.

Mr Ramsey, 67, said he was irate with the Tamworth Road Resource Centre, in West Croydon – which was in charge of his sister's care plan – for not taking steps to look after his only sibling earlier.

"The system has failed her," Mr Ramsey added.

"Where is the care in the care system? I know at the end of the day this comes down to resources and I understand that, but how can you put a price on a life?" he said.

"She should not have been at home on her own.

"I also know people will look at me and say 'why didn't you offer to have her and look after her?' But me and my wife both live in Eastbourne and work as carers. A lot of the time I work seven days a week.

"She would have been on her own for so much of the time."

Mr Ramsey spoke to his sister nearly every day to see if she was taking her medication and last saw her the Sunday prior to her death.

He said: "She was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was just 14 and had to have injections and take them almost every day of her life.

"But she held down a full-time job at the Co-op in Addiscombe until just a few years ago.

"She seemed to have a good rapport with customers and she had friends who she would go to Fairfield Halls and shopping in Croydon with.

"She was a very good sister, she was very caring. She used to enjoy life up until her father died."

A spokeswoman for South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, which operates the Tamworth Road Centre and the Royal Bethlem, said: "We are deeply saddened by the death of one of our patients and extend our condolences to the family.

"The police and London Fire Brigade are investigating the cause of death and we are unable to comment further at this time."

The Advertiser was unable to reach Woodside Medical Centre for a comment.

A fire brigade spokesman confirmed the cause of the blaze is under investigation.

He said: "Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus found the body of an elderly woman in the rear lounge. She was sadly pronounced dead at the scene."

A post-mortem examination revealed Ms Ramsey died of smoke inhalation and burning.

Her funeral will take place on November 28 at Croydon Crematorium, from 1pm. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Brother of South Norwood house fire victim says she was let down by the health service

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