Teacher died on hospital trolley amid Brighton and Hove social care cuts
THE ARGUS 21 Feb 2018
A TEACHER who wanted to die with dignity at home after being diagnosed with terminal cancer ended up dying on a hospital trolley.
His case is just one example of the impact of social care cuts seen by Brighton and Hove’s GPs.
Doctors told of the harrowing experiences health professionals and patients were left to contend with as budgets are squeezed.
They spoke of their experiences as part of a survey, revealed in Monday’s Argus, which showed almost 98 per cent had seen patients suffer problems as a direct result of a lack of social care.
Last Thursday Brighton and Hove City Council agreed a further £3.4 million of cuts to adult and social care for the year ahead.
Urgent referrals delayed for weeks, difficulties in accessing basic care and terminally ill patients forced to die in hospital rather than at home because of a lack of 24-hour social care were all regular experiences for doctors.
Doctors gave examples of patients forced unnecessarily into A&E because of a lack of provision to care for them in the community.
One doctor said: “I frequently see elderly patients who could manage at home with extra support but an 'urgent' referral to social services for support is not responded to for several weeks, and rapid response team is too full to take any new referrals. Hospital admission is inappropriate, but patients cannot be left in an unsafe situation. This is a regular occurrence.”
Another GP described the cases they were dealing with as “picking up the pieces of a broken social care service. The thought of this getting worse doesn’t bear thinking about”.
Doctors reported accounts of patients and their families threatening to sue. One described “increasing pressure on GPs as families don’t understand our hands are tied” adding they had “threats of families suing us if a patient dies because of no social care support”.
Patients in need of support while they recover from minor medical problems often end up in hospital because of a lack of other provision the doctors said.
One described the situation as “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Dr Tim Worthley, a GP who looks after the city’s homeless community, described his colleagues’ stories as “pretty chastening reading”
He said: “My experiences are similar. It’s astonishing the impact cuts have had in the last years, in housing and adult social care.”