Catalogue of failures led to retired miner being denied chance to die at home

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A RETIRED South Yorkshire miner was prevented from going home to die beside the brother he had lived with his whole life, because of a string of errors by the five organisations tasked with looking after him, it can be revealed today.

The man, aged 77 and who was unable to walk, was deprived of his liberty without proper account of the law being taken, according to a joint investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).

The investigation probed the roles of a GP practice, a hospital trust, a primary care trust (PCT) and two local authorities.

The dying man, who also suffered from diabetes and Alzheimer’s, told carers that he did not want to die in a hospital or a care home, but his wishes, and those of his brother, were not dealt with appropriately, amounting to service failure, the report said.

His brother, who was his primary carer, pleaded with NHS staff to respect the man’s wishes to die at home. A meeting to discuss the case was delayed by a month, in which time the man died in hospital, 10 miles from his home.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: “This tragic case could have been prevented if the proper procedures were followed and a more joined up approach taken to care. A series of delays meant that a dying man’s wishes were ignored and caused unnecessary distress to his brother. The trust should have reacted urgently to this distressed man’s letter to the care home pleading for them to let his sick brother go home to die, within hours or days at the most. But instead they postponed a meeting for a month, in which time his brother died, away from home.”

The PHSO and LGO have called on the five organisations involved to apologise to the surviving brother for causing him distress, and to each pay him £200, a total of £1,000.