Terminally ill man deprived of right to die at home due to healthcare failings


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The Independent Online

A terminally ill man was prevented from going home to die beside the brother he had lived with all his life because of catalogue of failings by doctors and social workers, a report has concluded.

The retired Yorkshire miner, 77, was wrongly “deprived of his liberty” and spent his final days in a care home despite repeated requests that he should be allowed home.

The man, identified only as RK, was unable to walk and suffering from diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and breathing problems. He was admitted to hospital, then sent to a care home, where he died in December 2009. A GP had earlier found that the house shared by the two brothers was “in a terrible state” and the air was “acrid”.

But today’s report, by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman, said the wishes of RK and his brother TK should have been respected.

“Even if that decision had in some respects led to his [life] being less comfortable – possibly even shortened his life – it would have been what he wanted: to continue living, and then to die, in his own home,” they said.

TK told the inquiry that he still questioned whether he could have done more to fulfil his brother’s wishes. “Part of my life has now been taken away, this hits me so much more at night when my brain is going at 90mph and I’m left wondering what else I could have done to get my brother home,” he said. “I complied with all agencies involved and never stopped the fight to try and get my brother home.”

The report criticised five organisations – Derbyshire County Primary Care Trust (PCT), Moss Valley Medical Practice, Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Derbyshire County Council and Sheffield City Council – saying they failed to take proper account of laws relating to depriving people of their liberty. They were ordered to pay a total of £1,000 to TK, write letters of apology and review patient safeguards. The PCT no longer exists, but the Department of Health will pay its fine.