Sunderland pensioner left 40 hours without heating as plumbers go sick during freezing weather

Pensioner Doris Middlemiss could not get Gentoo to repair her heating over the weekend.
Pensioner Doris Middlemiss could not get Gentoo to repair her heating over the weekend.
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A diabetic pensioner was left without heating for about 40 hours because Gentoo’s emergency repair team was unable to cope with demand.

Doris Middlemiss’ family was told seven of the property company’s 10 emergency plumbers were off sick over the weekend.

They said they had 10 emergency plumbers at the weekend, but seven of them had gone off sick.

Beverley Marshall

The housing firm has apologised after the 81-year-old was left with just an electric radiator to warm her home in Whinfell, Albany, Washington, from Saturday night to Monday morning.

Mrs Middlemiss’ daughter Beverley Marshall said the heating in her mother’s home had broken down about 6pm on Saturday.

“She went through to the kitchen and there was water all over the floor,” she said.

“She went next door to her neighbour, who rang the Gentoo emergency line.

“They said they would send somebody out, but nobody was sent.

“They told her to turn the water off altogether, but I refused to do that because she would not even be able to have a hot drink.

“I actually phoned Gentoo myself and explained I was not happy with the service – it is just a pre-fab bungalow, and it was absolutely bitterly cold on Saturday night.

“My mother has heart problems and is diabetic. She is a vulnerable old lady.

“They said they had 10 emergency plumbers at the weekend, but seven of them had gone off sick.

“At the end of the day, that is not my problem. My husband goes on call at the weekend if he has to.”

Gentoo Group executive director of property Ian Porter declined to discuss the exact number of plumbers the firm had providing cover at the weekend, but said the firm had been hit by the arrival of the first real cold spell of the winer.

He apologised for the time taken to get Mrs Middlemiss’ heating working again

“Our priority at Gentoo is making sure that our customers are safe and secure in their homes,” he said. “When we were made aware of the leak, we instructed Mrs Middlemiss to turn off her water in order to make the property safe.

“While we endeavour to fix repairs as soon as possible, our out-of-hours emergency repair service was experiencing a significant demand for emergencies due to extreme weather conditions over the weekend.

“Temporary heating provision was offered and the work was completed on Monday.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused during this time.”