‘I’m lucky to be alive’ – Stevenage driver run over by his own car says full-time caring role has left him exhausted

Norman Phillips with his wife Ros.

Norman Phillips with his wife Ros. - Credit: Archant

The driver who was run over by his own car in Stevenage town centre on Monday is a champion for the rights of carers and blames the mishap on his exhausting life looking after others.

Police were called just after 5pm as Norman Phillips, 64, came to grief under the wheels of his specially-adapted Motability vehicle.

Speaking to the Comet, he blamed the error on the tiredness and exhaustion faced by ‘sandwich carers’ who look after family members in more than one place.

He said: “I am lucky to be alive. If the car had moved a couple of inches to the left it would have gone over me, wheels and all. I felt ripped apart and everything was a blur.”

Norman was dragged onto the tarmac reversing into a parking bay.

He recalled: “Just as I stopped the car the phone rings and it’s mum in a lather about something, she was like a machine gun going off.”

The phone slipped from his hand, and as he tried to pick it up he accidentally caused the vehicle to lurch backwards.

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It jolted with such force that the accelerator pedal snapped off.

He spent two nights at the town’s Lister Hospital for treatment to bruised thighs, minor head and neck injuries – and he still remains on morphine.

“The traffic police said to me: ‘You’ve been lucky, how you’re even talking to me is amazing’.”

Norman cares for both his 66-year-old wife Ros at their home in Blackberry Mead, Stevenage, and his mother Noreen, 86, who lives in London.

He says sandwich carers are stretched to the limit by “being pulled in different directions, having to be in two places at once.”

“It had been brewing for a few weeks,” he said of the accident.

“There’s no National Health Service any more, there is no longer a national policy for social care.”

Sandwich carers often have to negotiate their way through two different local authority care systems and Norman told the Comet: “Even in Hertfordshire the bad news is that the social services and the NHS have different strategies for carers. In Hertfordshire I know who to speak to, but in London I haven’t got a clue.”

Norman is the administrator of Stevenage Carers’ Support Group and is an ambassador for Carers UK.

He also volunteers at the Lister, having served on the chaplaincy team for three years and the carer support team since last September.

Roma Mills of Carers in Herts says that Norman’s plight is not uncommon. She said: “80 per cent of carers suffer from stress and anxiety, and one in six suffer from sleepless nights.

“Looking after someone you love is tough even when you have the best support in the world.”

Roma says many carers are suffering in silence, adding: “There are over 110,000 carers in Herts, with around 10,000 in Stevenage. We are in touch with only about 20,000.”

Although Norman doesn’t know when he will be driving again, he is still looking to the future with his spirits high.

“You’ve got to keep your spirits up,” he said.

But he repeated his stark warning over the confused state of social care: “The carer’s job is a series of mountains to climb. You get on top of one and then it turns out that you’re on the wrong mountain.”

• If you are affected by the stress of caring, or know someone who is, you can get in touch with Carers in Herts on 01992 586969, email contact@carersinherts.org.uk or visit www.carersinherts.org.uk.