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Swale Heating apologises after Lydd pensioner Jim Burt re-admitted to hospital

By Sam Lennon

A pensioner who had just been discharged from hospital had to be re-admitted after a company did not repair his heating for several days.

Swale Heating has apologised after telling James Burt, 74, of Lydd, it could not be fixed for three days despite visiting engineers saying it could be done in an hour.

He was left with a fan heater whose overly dry heat worsened his condition and led to him being sent him back to hospital.

Jim Burt is in a row with Swale Heating about his treatment. Picture: Gary Browne

Mr Burt, of Brooks Way, told the firm in a written complaint: “For a company as large as yours, I think it’s a disgrace that you can leave people like myself in danger.’’

Mr Burt had been referred by his GP to Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital after having difficulty breathing and a suspected blood clot in his lung.

“I tried to explain that the heaters would dry all the air up and it was no good for my lungs" - Mr Burt

He was discharged two days after being treated with antibiotics and steroids.

The next morning at when he tried to turn on his central heating it didn’t work.

He called Swale Heating and two workers came, said his boiler pump had failed but it could physically be repaired in an hour.

But they said they had to ring their office to report the fault. A woman at the office said that the job could not be done for another three days but portable heaters could be sent in the meantime.

Mr Burt said: “I tried to explain that the heaters would dry all the air up and it was no good for my lungs.

“The workmen left me an electric fan heater from their van. They meant well as that was all I had to heat my entire four-bedroomed bungalow.’’

Mr Burt with the temporary heater he was supplied with to heat his home. Picture: Gary Browne

Swale Heating finally fixed Mr Burt’s central heating on the morning of Monday, March 9, but the effect of days without proper heating meant that Mr Burt was taken ill again three days later.

He was taken by ambulance to the Harvey with a high temperature, difficulty breathing and severe coughing and discharged the next day.

The company’s complaints department investigated and apologised, admitting mistakes.

An email to Mr Burt from a member of the Sittingbourne-based company said: “Let me apologise for the ongoing issues and poor level of service that you have experienced from us.

"Swale Heating strive to provide a reliable service to our costumers however I feel that on this occasion that has not been the case.

“The appointment took too long for us to return to fit parts to the boiler.’’

On the day Mr Burt’s heating broke down, March 6, town councillor Michael Walsh took up his case and contacted Shepway District Council’s emergency department.

Mr Burt said it in turn contacted Swale Heating, which said it would send more portable heaters but none came.

Swale Heating sales director Matthew Edwards told the Kentish Express that the company did all it could to assist Mr Burt.

He also explained how the confusion over the engineer’s claim that it would only take one hour to fix came about.

“The fault was reported at 1.20pm on Friday, March 6 and our engineer attended within two hours of receiving the call.

Carbon monoxide can be emitted if a boiler is fitted incorrectly. Stock picture

“He carried out a thorough inspection and discovered that the faulty part was a specific boiler integral pump.

“This is a non-standard part which is not carried on the engineer’s van and needed to be ordered in for the next working day, which was Monday, March 9.

“In the presence of Mr Burt, our engineer called the office to explain the situation and to order the part.

“Our engineer told the office it would take him an hour to install the new pump so they could co-ordinate the timing of his customer appointments on Monday morning.

“We can only assume that Mr Burt overhead this and assumed that the work would be done there and then and only take an hour.

“We apologise if the situation was not explained to him more clearly.’’

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