Grandmother left without vital emergency phone system for nearly two weeks

A worried son whose 92-year-old deaf and blind mother has been without a life-saving emergency phone system for nearly two weeks has hit out at Virgin Media.

Monday, 3rd July 2017, 8:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:23 am
Grandmother Phillis Biggs, who has been without her life-saving phone for nearly two weeks, with her son Robin SUS-170307-185640001

Grandmother Phillis Biggs lives in a flat South Avenue in Goring, over an hour’s drive from her son Robin’s home in Newbury.

Until recently, Robin had felt safe in the knowledge that an emergency system would automatically call the emergency services if Phillis suffered a fall or the fire alarm went off.

But the phone line it uses has now been broken for nearly two weeks, which Robin said has forced him to move his mother into a £1,000-a-week care home and give up work to investigate the problem.

Robin, 66, said: “She’s 92, had two strokes and she’s deaf and blind.

“She has to have the phone working because she can’t get help if she falls over or has another stroke.”

He said before the phone line broke he would often get calls at night from paramedics telling him his mother had fallen but they were looking after her.

He added that without the emergency system his mother could die if a fire broke out in her apartment.

Robin discovered the problem when he could not get through to Phillis on the phone on Tuesday, June 20.

Virgin Media, which runs the phone line, sent someone out to fix it the following day, but the line failed again soon after.

Unable to leave his mother in her flat, Robin moved her into a care home in Worthing at a cost of £1,000 a week to ensure her safety.

Robin, who has had to give up his job as a business development manager so he can fix the situation, said: “It is an appalling way to treat our old people.

“These people have been in a war and paid taxes all their lives.

“She’s confused, she doesn’t know what is going on.”

A spokesman for Virgin Media said: “We apologise to Mrs Biggs and her family for the inconvenience they have experienced as a result of the issue with her landline.

“We take these matters very seriously and are working with the family to resolve it as a priority.”

The company told Robin an engineer will be visiting tomorrow to fix the issue.

West Sussex County Council has also been in touch with Robin, and is assisting with the situation, including funding much of Phillis’s stay at Hollywynd Rest Home in St Botolph’s Road.