Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Disabled Patients 'Dying of NHS Abuse and Lack of Care'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Disabled Patients 'Dying of NHS Abuse and Lack of Care'

Article excerpt

Byline: SOPHIE GOODCHILD Health Editor

DOZENS of vulnerable patients may have died of neglect in NHS hospitals and care homes, it was revealed today.

The health service ombudsman will launch an inquiry after relatives said their loved ones suffered "horrific abuse" at the hands of doctors, nurses and care staff.

Today the ombudsman, Ann Abraham, released a report into six deaths in NHS or local authority care between 2003 and 2005.

Mental health charity Mencap complained to her last year on behalf of the families. The report showed there were human rights abuses and discrimination.

Campaigners today warned that the deaths were just the "tip of the iceberg" with many more examples of institutional discrimination uncovered, prompting the new inquiry.

In today's report, Ms Abraham found a catalogue of "significant and distressing failures" in hospital and council care. She revealed that patients with learning difficulties were treated as second-class citizens, resulting in "prolonged suffering and inappropriate care".

Ms Abraham said Mark Cannon, 30, died as a consequence of public service failure by the Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust and Havering council in east London.

Mr Cannon, of Romford, was epileptic and had a severe learning difficulty which meant that he had very little speech. In June 2003 he broke his leg at a council care home. He was treated at Oldchurch hospital in Romford, which has since closed, but died eight weeks later from complications.

The ombudsman said he was left in severe pain and distress for prolonged periods, and was twice discharged from hospital without due concern for his safety. She also upheld a complaint against the Healthcare Commission finding that the regulator's review of a complaint by Mr Cannon's parents was "unreliable and unsafe".

In the case of stroke patient Martin Ryan, 43, of Richmond, who had Down's Syndrome and died in December 2005 at Kingston hospital, Ms Abraham found that doctors failed to give him a feeding tube and said "at best [care] is patchy". …

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