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Care Of Down’s Syndrome Man Criticised

November 23, 2011

A man with Down’s Syndrome had his basic human rights ignored after he was detained in hospital and then kept locked up before he died, an investigation has found.

Serious failings were uncovered in the care provided to a client named only as Mr J by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle City Council.

A joint inquiry by the Health Service and Local Government Ombudsmen found he was kept in hospital unnecessarily for months and then moved into inappropriate locked accommodation afterwards.

The investigation was launched after a complaint by the brother of Mr J, who had been an active, outgoing and sociable man, living independently in rented accommodation with his wife.

The inquiry found he had day-to-day support from Newcastle City Council, and his family, to whom he was close, supported his wish to be as independent as possible. But when health professionals became concerned about a significant deterioration in his skills and health, Mr J was admitted to hospital for a short assessment.

He was diagnosed with dementia and epilepsy but, in spite of being declared ready for discharge, he was kept in hospital for a further five months. Rather than returning home, Mr J and his wife were moved to a self-contained flat at a care home for older people. The flat was kept locked, for safety reasons.

Although this was supposed to be temporary accommodation, Mr J and his wife were still living there 10 months later when Mr J became ill with a chest infection. He was admitted to hospital, where he died, aged 53.

His rights to liberty and family life were not given adequate consideration by those involved in his care, and there was a lack of leadership, the inquiry found.

Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham said: “It is shocking that the events described in this report happened in the 21st century. I hope the lessons from Mr J’s story will be understood by public bodies and thereby help to drive improvements in public services.”

The NHS trust apologised to Mr J’s family. A spokeswoman said: “The trust welcomes the report and recommendations including that it found the clinical care and treatment provided by the trust was on the whole reasonable. Since this complaint was raised in 2006 a number of developments have taken place which are now core to patients’ care and treatment.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 23, 2011 3:44 am

    “The trust welcomes the report and recommendations including that it found the clinical care and treatment provided by the trust was on the whole reasonable.”

    They’ve clearly taken their failure to heart, not! Back into the attic for the lot of us?

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