Inquiry call over doctor's work at Broadmoor: Inmate suffered acute withdrawal symptoms

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The Independent Online
JOHN RICHMAN remembers well the day that he got up 'in a bad mood' and told the nursing staff on his ward at Broadmoor to 'stick your medication - I'm refusing it'.

The date, which Mr Richman checked in his diary, was Monday 6 April 1987. His responsible medical officer at Broadmoor was Dr Loucas.

Mr Richman, who is now in the secure unit at Ealing Hospital, west London, said last week: 'Dr Loucas came in and said, Mr Richman, you don't want any medication, you're not on any medication. He put three lines through my medicine card and threw it on the desk.'

Mr Richman had taken illegal drugs before he went to Broadmoor, but he says he never knew that it was possible to suffer withdrawal symptoms while coming off legal drugs.

He says he suffered vomiting, diarrhoea, hot and cold sweats, blurred vision. Only the kindness of a charge nurse who let him lie down in a seclusion room helped him over the next couple of days.

In tonight's edition of Cutting Edge, Professor Elaine Murphy, vice-chairman of the Mental Health Act Commission, says: 'To suddenly withdraw treatment without discussing it with the patient, without agreeing it with the patient, or without any rational clinical explanation in the notes is, I think, unkind at the least and could be cruel.'

Mr Richman's solicitor wrote this year to the Mental Health Act Commission to ask what investigations it had made into the way Mr Richman had been treated. William Bingley, chief executive of the commission, replied that commissioners had made notes of Mr Richman's case during a visit on 14 May 1987. 'Commissioners expressed concern that on your client withdrawing consent, his medication had been abruptly withdrawn without consideration being given to calling in a second opinion.'

Similar concern had been expressed in a review by commissioners carried out in September 1987, Mr Bingley said. 'A copy of this review was forwarded to the Department of Health.'

(Photograph omitted)