Hunger strike wife celebrates after NHS agree to provide drug

July 8, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A devastated wife who vowed to starve to death to win her husband proper care was celebrating after the NHS agreed to her demands.

Full-time carer Angela Cavill-Burch, 42, went on hunger strike for quadriplegic husband Terence Burch, 65, calling for proper care at home, physiotherapy and the drug Sativex.

The couple were ecstatic after being told Terence will be provided with the drug, which must be used regular physiotherapy.

NHS Peterborough Community Services will also provide emergency safety cover for the nights their usual carer does not work, meaning Angela will finally be able to sleep seven nights a week.

Father-of-one Terence, a retired railway signaller, passed a continuous care assessment in October 2009 by the service, which entitled him to fully funded 24-hours-a-day support.

He was assigned agency carers for 100 hours a week, but they were ”unqualified” to deal with his needs and the support was cut to just 14 hours per week in December.

Angela struggled to care for her husband with the minimal help as NHS Peterborough Community Services tried to find an agency who could cope with Terence’s condition.

But after eight months no suitable alternative had been found and the NHS also announced Terence’s weekly physiotherapy sessions, which helped relieve his ”unbearable” pain, would be cancelled.

Frustrated Angela began her strike as a last resort on July 1 and consumed just fluids for six days until she was contacted and told help was at last on its way.

She said: ”We have just been told Sativex will be delivered later today, and it has to be taken with physiotherapy to be assessed properly so we will get that back too.

”Emergency safety cover is also being provided to us on all nights when our main carer is not available.

”Although this is great news and I am happy they have met most of our demands, it is inhumane that we had to wait for so long.

”Hopefully this means Terence and I will be able to get some life back and his pain can be reduced.

”There is a complete lack of care in the community for people suffering with spinal conditions and this desperately needs to be addressed.

”It is pathetic that I had to go on hunger strike in order to bring this to their attention and finally get some help for me and my husband.”

Terence contracted staphylococcus aureus, an infection in his neck in June 2007, which ate away at his third, fourth and fifth vertebrae and caused them to lean on his spine and depress it.

He is in constant pain from his neck down, has excruciating spasticity, a catheter and his legs straightened every hour.

A spokesman for NHS Peterborough Community Services said a new review was being undertaken to support the couple.

He said: ”A current review is now taking place to reassess these needs and to ensure that appropriate and effective care is in place in agreement with Mr Burch and Mrs
Cavill-Burch.

”The health, safety and well-being of Mr Burch and Mrs Cavill-Burch remain a priority.

”Anyone who may need care and support is assessed by NHS Peterborough Community Services to determine if they are eligible for assistance.

”If they are eligible to receive services, then a care plan is developed with them to identify the level of care they need to meet their specific needs. This plan is regularly reviewed.

”If they feel that the issue has still not been satisfactorily resolved, then a formal complaint can be made.”

Dr Stephen Kirker, Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine at Addenbrooke’s hospital, which prescribes Sativex, said it could help Terence’s spasms.

He said: ”Sativex is a new drug designed to treat muscle spasms in patients with Multiple Sclerosis — but it may help a small number of people with spasticity due to other diseases.

”It was licensed for use in the UK at the end of June and we are just beginning to consider it as an option for patients at Addenbrooke’s.”

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