Terminally-ill WWII war hero denied NHS care

September 22, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A terminally-ill WWII hero who spent a year in a Prisoner of War camp has been denied NHS nursing care because he is ‘not ill enough’ – despite having just weeks to live with THREE cancers and dementia.

Former RAF Sergeant Bernard Warren, 86, was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach, liver and lungs two weeks ago and given two months to live.

His wife Tricia, 69, has dutifully nursed him at home for six years as he fell victim to dementia but is now unable to cope with his failing health.

She turned in desperation to her local NHS Trust and asked if her husband of 46 years could be moved into a nursing home to live out his final days with professional help.

But officials said his condition did not ‘tick enough boxes’ and refused to fund the £3,500 a month care package.

Devastated Tricia, who cares for her husband at their home in Henleaze, Bristol, was denied financial help – and assessors instead advised her to claim incapacity benefits.

The family are furious that benefit scroungers living nearby are raking in a fortune while Bernard – who has never asked for a penny from the state – is denied help.

They live just a few miles from super-scroungers Sam and Peter Smith, who rake in a staggering £100,000 a year in benefits to support their ten children in Kingswood, Bristol.

Bernard’s furious son Simon, 37, stormed: ”They told us there was just not enough ticks in the boxes. He is not classed as being ill enough.

”My dad’s dying. He fought for his country, and was a prisoner of war and never asked for a penny from his country.

”Where is the justice, where is the reward? Especially as this country celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

”Mum has nursed him for six years without asking for anything at all. I think it is really unfair and so many people must be in the same boat.”

Tricia added: ”Bernard is far too ill for me to look after him.

”I just feel that it is unfair when they can support people having kids and claiming benefits.

”They have a choice to have children, but you do not choose to have cancer.”

The couple, from Kingswood, Bristol, were slammed last month after it emerged they rake in a staggering £100,000 a year in benefits for their 10-strong brood.

Bernard joined the RAF at 18 and, during the Second World War was a rear gunner based at RAF Elsham Wolds, Lincs.

He was shot down over Dusseldorf in April 1944 and forced to parachute out of his Lancaster bomber.

After the war Bernard became a brewery area manager but still visited his old base every year until he was officially diagnosed with dementia three years ago, after showing symptoms several years earlier.

He has been cared for by Tricia at their home but his condition deteriorated over recent months.

And a fortnight ago doctors gave him just eight weeks to live after diagnosing him with cancer of the lungs, stomach and liver.

Tricia, who was advised by a social worker they should be eligible for financial help, contacted NHS Bristol and Bernard was assessed under the Continuing Care scheme.

But she was stunned when they were told they did not qualify for help as his condition was not serious enough.

Tricia added: ”I know there must be thousands of people out there like us and that we cannot be unique, but you don’t expect to have to fund care for someone who is so ill.

”It does not seem right to say that someone so ill does not tick all the boxes, especially when we had been told he should get a full package of care.”

Julie Hendry, of NHS Bristol, said: ”We are very sorry to hear about the concerns of this couple. There are clear national guidelines to assess levels of need against specific criteria.

”Patients have the right to appeal or to apply for reassessment at any time if their needs change.

”We cannot comment on the specifics of Mr Warren’s case, but there are other forms of funding available should he finally not meet the continuing healthcare funding criteria.

”This includes NHS-funded nursing contribution or social care depending on his eligibility.”

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