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Barnstaple man calls for debate on care system ‘in crisis’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 14 February 2018

North Devon man John Barrass has been campaigning for changes to the way care homes for elderly people are inspected and regulated and for an overhaul of the complaints process. Picture: Andy Keeble

North Devon man John Barrass has been campaigning for changes to the way care homes for elderly people are inspected and regulated and for an overhaul of the complaints process. Picture: Andy Keeble

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A Barnstaple man is calling for an end to delays to resolve the crisis in care more than a year after the Prime Minister personally requested a report on the issue.

Vera Barrass, pictured before her death in 2009. Picture: Contributed Vera Barrass, pictured before her death in 2009. Picture: Contributed

John Barrass hit the headlines in 2016 when the death of his mother Vera in a private care home was highlighted by North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones in a House of Commons debate.

The Bickington man’s seven year investigation into the care system resulted in a hard-hitting document called Care Means Care, Justice in Care, which he sent to Prime Minister Theresa May.

Mrs May asked for a full report following a meeting between Mr Barrass and the then care minister David Mowatt, but that has not happened.

There have been four different care ministers since then and 16 months later a frustrated Mr Barrass is calling for action.

Bickington man John Barrass and his father George are calling for the creation of one body to investigate, regulate and handle complaints about care homes. Picture: Andy Keeble Bickington man John Barrass and his father George are calling for the creation of one body to investigate, regulate and handle complaints about care homes. Picture: Andy Keeble

The latest minister is Caroline Dinenage and the Gazette has asked her if she wishes to comment.

Mr Barrass, who is calling for the creation of one body to investigate, regulate and handle complaints about care homes, said: “There is nothing being done at all and anyone reading my report can see there are massively important issues in there that need a care minister to take it seriously.

“The Prime Minister wanted a report and she still doesn’t have it. I have been trying all this time to get this meeting.”

Mr Barrass wants Mrs May to call for a cross-party debate on the care system, which he says is failing massively and is not fit for purpose.

Vera Barrass, died of aspiration pneumonia at North Devon District Hospital in October 2009, aged 82. Picture: Contributed Vera Barrass, died of aspiration pneumonia at North Devon District Hospital in October 2009, aged 82. Picture: Contributed

Vera Barrass died in 2009 and in his report Mr Barrass alleged she received ‘appalling’ care, was left in a soiled bed, was not given the correct medication and did not receive prompt medical treatment.

Peter Heaton-Jones told the Gazette having three different care ministers in the past year had led to delays, but he would keep pushing and hoped to arrange the meeting with Mr Barrass soon.

He said: “I agree with him that we need an overhaul of the way care homes are inspected and regulated, and the way complaints are handled. Indeed I’ve raised this in Parliament, and organised two specific debates about it.

“I raised it personally with Theresa May when she became Prime Minister, and she has indeed asked to be kept in touch.”

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