Fears vulnerable do not get represented

WIGAN  01-08-16
from left, Julie Hurst, Margaret Whalley and Helen Prescott, have formed a group to find answer to why their late relatives were put onto end-of-life care pathway.
WIGAN 01-08-16 from left, Julie Hurst, Margaret Whalley and Helen Prescott, have formed a group to find answer to why their late relatives were put onto end-of-life care pathway.

Families who believe their loved ones were put on end-of-life care pathways say they fear vulnerable people have no-one to speak out for them.

Margaret Whalley, whose brother Benjamin Bowdler died in a vegetative state in 2013, and Julie Hurst whose mum Betty Lythgoe died at Wigan Infirmary in 2015 raised concerns over Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).

The forms are used for people who cannot make their own medical decisions and allow either a relative or an independent advocate to represent patients in discussions with health professionals.

However, Ms Hurst alleges that her mother was the subject of just one DoLS form when she was in Wigan Infirmary and says one should have been made out every time she was transferred between the hospital and her care home.

In addition, Mrs Whalley says she was never offered the chance to be included on a DoLS form as a representative for her brother.

Although Wigan Council claims all concerns about these cases have been settled the relatives are worried that the authority’s response to their questions means families of vulnerable people are still not getting the chance to speak on their behalf.

Mrs Whalley said: “They never explained the system and my brother’s rights to advocacy to us and they never explained it to Julie in her mum’s case.

“In both our cases meetings were held without our knowledge or consent and we should have been there.

“I’m worried other people are at risk because they do not have a DoLS when they should have. That could be leaving vulnerable people without representation and without a voice.”

The families have written to Stuart Cowley, the town hall’s director of adult social care and health, raising the potential safeguarding issue.

A council spokesman said: “The concerns raised by Mrs Hurst and Mrs Whalley have been considered at all stages of the complaints process. They have been fully investigated and responses provided.”

A Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) spokesman said: “Our chief officer has received the letters setting out the concerns of the families and has replied directly. These cases are currently being looked at by the police as part of a wider investigation and therefore we are unable to say anything more at this time.”