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Friday, 9 January 2009

A vulnerable patient died of starvation in an NHS hospital after 26 days without food, according to Mencap, the disability charity.

Patient 'died of starvation in NHS hospital'
article in the Telegraph


"Martin Ryan, 43, was left unable to swallow after suffering a stroke but a "total breakdown in communication" meant he was never fitted with a feeding tube.

Doctors thought that nurses were feeding him through a tube in his nose, an internal inquiry by the hospital found.

But by the time they discovered this was not happening, he was too weak for an operation to insert a tube into his stomach. Mr Ryan, who had Down's syndrome, died in agony five days later.

Disability charity Mencap said the case was one of several where the NHS "completely and unacceptably failed" patients with learning difficulties through a "catalogue of disasters".

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is expected to issue a similarly damning verdict on the NHS later this month.

Other cases highlighted by Mencap include Emma Kemp, 26, who was denied cancer treatment that could have saved her life.

Another patient Mark Cannon, 30, died two months after being admitted to hospital with a broken leg.

Three other cases followed similar patterns, with warnings ignored or problems missed until it was too late, often because the patients had difficulty communicating.

The father of one man who died, who was just 20, said: 'People like my son are treated as less than human'.

The six cases were raised by Mencap in a report entitled Death By Indifference."

Horrific avoidable suffering and death like this would not happen if health professionals were accountable for failures in their duty of care. If the police were to do the inquiries, rather than the hospital, and if the negligent doctors and nurses in this or a similar case were named and shamed and sent for trial for an offence called something like 'professional negligence leading to manslaughter', and received an appropriate sentence - surely a prison sentence - this dreadful cruel neglect would stop immediately. - Although they clearly do not care about the welfare of these patients, they assuredly care about their own...

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