Action urged after pensioners tragedy

Age Concern is calling for changes in the law so that there is no
repetition of the recent case where two pensioners died after
having their gas supply cut off.

The bodies of George and Gertrude Bates, both in their eighties,
were found in October in their house in Tooting, London, two months
after British Gas disconnected their gas due to non-payment of a
£140 bill. George Bates died of hypothermia and his wife of a
heart attack.

Age Concern said the law on information-sharing should be
re-addressed to ensure a balance between privacy and well-being.

Amid growing concern that the Data Protection Act 1998 could be
putting lives at risk, health secretary John Reid said: “If there
are data protection regulations that prevent people’s lives being
saved, there is obviously something wrong.”

A spokesperson for British Gas said the coroner had acknowledged
that the company had followed the correct processes.

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