Stephen Greck was a 64 year old pensioner when his mother Mary died at age 84 from lung cancer. The final months of her life were traumatic for both of them, as her care was removed when the G.P. said she had 'stabilised'. Stephen suffers from a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which left him with depression and also has serious chest problems of his own, yet it was up to him to fight for his mother's care in her dying days.
Shocked by the lack of care given by the NHS he contacted his MP who suggested resolution through the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Still struggling to come to terms with his grief and his own debilitating illness he took the time to present all the evidence to the Ombudsman's office, only to have it all rejected and the case dismissed.
The Ombudsman is unaccountable for decisions made, even when those decisions ignore key evidence and manipulate the facts. In his despair Stephen wrote to the Queen and you can read his heartfelt letter below. At least she had the decency to reply.
Re my mother’s end of life care.
I write to your majesty of a very serious nature that affects the lives of many old and dying, vulnerable people. These people I have found, through great pain to myself, do not seem to have a very affective and loud enough voice in their end of life care. Especially if that person elects to die at home, where there is no security of care given by a few professionals as was the case of my late mother.
My mother died at age 84 from lung cancer. All my past family have, each as you can imagine, a traumatic event in its self, especially for the patient and their loved ones. You personally have experience of what it’s like to lose loved ones this way and how this terrible disease destroys that person.
Your majesty, may I be so bold as to take up a few minutes of your time so that I may be as brief as possible and tell of my mothers end of life and lack of professional care. My mother was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer in September 2010. After this I went with my mother to a lung specialist and oncologist. My mother was told to eat, drink and do whatever she could within the confines of her illness. My mother was to have palliative therapy only on discharge and most of all to keep socialising with her friends for as long as possible. This she did.
My mother at this stage did not grasp the seriousness of this diagnosis, but I did and tried so hard to hide my feelings. I knew at this stage my mother would not have very long. On being referred to palliative team at home this was to only consist of fortnightly visits by a specialist nurse. This continued till February 2011, when I was shocked that doctors had told my mother that she had stabilised, without any reviews, scans or medical checks. That she would be taken off palliative care, but would be reinstated to a hospice if her condition deteriorates. This alas was not the case, she was never to be reinstated to hospice care. She was in effect abandoned by those she
trusted. This is when the nightmare began. It was a few weeks after this decision was taken that mum started to have serious symptoms and within weeks her breast had completely disappeared. For a woman as old as her, as I am sure it would be for any woman, she was not eating or drinking in any amount. It was at this time that my mother thanked me for being at her side and I promised her I would never abandon her and would do my best to get her the care she so desperately needed. This never came as always the doctors said she was fine, no need for a referral but finally I managed to get my mum referred via surgery receptionist. This was turned down I later found after
getting hold of all my mum’s records. The hospice asked why this woman was being referred to them as the doctors said she is fine, no referral required!
I cannot refer back over the anxieties of our family; just so cold, so unfeeling. Here we have a dying human being entrusted into so called professional hands, who was left to suffer these terrible symptoms without any input from the professionals.
Your majesty could you imagine what it was like to try and feed my mother, using small jars of baby food. I tried so hard to get help, but my pleas were falling on deaf ears. On one occasion after a visit by paramedics my mum was put on a vulnerable adults list. How shocking and humiliating for us both. This was just before my mum died. At this stage my health started to deteriorate I am also disabled with two chest illnesses. I lived in Derby, my mother lived in South London. She was too frail to move in with me in Derby and this was the London she loved. She chose to die there and still the G.P. and hospice would not reinstate palliative care. I have to ask why? This was
violating my mother’s human rights to die with dignity and care and where was her end of life care plan? Nowhere. It’s as though my mother never existed at all. My mother died in hospital on 1st July 2011, where she did receive palliative care for eight days. Eight days from admission to hospital the last time till death. Eight days palliative care was all she was given.
Your majesty, we hear everyday about these things happening leaving many devastated lives behind, but to me my mother’s case was special, because I used the resolution process to ask the questions and to get the answers as to why this happened. I did not sue or at any time ask for compensation for my mum, but unfortunately the system has not delivered the answers. In fact the Health Ombudsman with her G.P. advisors totally destroyed my mother’s case, finding in favour of the GP. Not giving one point to mum and myself -why? Even my MP turned on me in the end saying it’s obvious that you carry a heavy burden by not being with your mum as often as you would have liked, especially
when her health deteriorated.
My family were shocked by this comment. It’s as though I got the blame for what happened. I am not a cancer specialist, but the GPs and hospice are!
Your majesty, I suffer now and have for two years with PTSD, yet with all this, I have managed to maintain dialogue with Parliament, Ombudsman GPs and hospice. A mighty tall order, but I am not afraid of them, but I feel a person like myself has no voice, no one is listening, it seems no one cares. None of these people have ever asked about my health, no one ever asks how I am coping with all the stress this has caused. I will forever remember my mum as a true heroine to go through all stages of cancer without care. Means my mother was someone special, she was very special!!
Your majesty I know that at one time my MP went to see Dame Julie Mellor regarding my mother's case. I did have a review centred around the original investigation. This of course led to the conclusion that stood in the first place. This system appears to be very biased against those who are disadvantaged, or are not up to barrister standard. I hope no one thinks I am not mentally fit, but I am in the sense that I can still write.
Your majesty, my earnest hope is that you are able to consider and to pass on the views expressed here onto those who can make a difference and give hope to mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and society as a whole in the hope that justice will prevail and that no family has to go through the daunting process I have just been through. Losing a loved one is bad enough, but to rub salt in the wound is something else.
I have the honour to remain madam, your majesty’s humble and obedient servant.