Wife goes on hunger strike in protest at lack of NHS care for her paralysed husband

July 7, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A devastated wife has gone on hunger strike in protest at the lack of NHS care for her paralysed husband – vowing to STARVE TO DEATH to win the support he needs.

Angela Cavill-Burch, 42, full time carer for quadriplegic husband Terence Burch, 65, says her death may be the only way to force the NHS to provide the help he ”desperately” requires.

She is demanding the NHS fulfils its ”duty of care” to reinstate his cancelled physiotherapy sessions and provides him with proper care at home.

Terence passed a continuous care assessment by NHS Peterborough Community Services in October 2009 which entitled him to fully-funded 24-hours-a-day support.

He was assigned agency carers for 100 hours a week, but Angela and the PCT agreed they were ”unqualified” to deal with his needs and a new agency was requested.

The support she was given was cut to just 14 hours a week over two night while the PCT looked into providing a care agency which could better cope with Terence’s condition.

But after eight months no support has been found despite repeated requests for help, leaving her to struggle on her own – and they have now cancelled his weekly pyshio.

Former rail company project manager Angela started a hunger strike on July 1 as her last resort having already approached support groups, her local MP and writing to the Prime Minister.

She has only consumed fluids for the last six days.

Angela, of Peterborough, Cambs., said: ”I am prepared to die for my husband, at least then the authorities will be forced to give him the care he desperately needs.

”Terence frequently asks me what the point is of him living and says he will find a way to end his life if he cannot be helped.

”The agency workers used to sit here and do crosswords, they were hopeless and said they could not do the work involved because of health and safety.

”I drew up a risk assessment of our situation and it is so dangerous for both of us.

”Some nights I can’t help myself and fall asleep and my poor husband has to shout at me to wake me up so I can give him his care.

”I think they are just doing this to cut their costs and because I am here and caring for him they will not pay out – they will have to if I die from not eating.

”I am effectively a prisoner in my own home and will not stop this hunger strike until the NHS stops restricting both my and my husband’s basic human rights.”

Fit and active Terence was struck down with staphylococcus aureus, an infection in his neck, and kidney cancer while working in Abu Dhabi in June 2007.

He was left paralysed from the neck down and had his right kidney removed while his condition became gradually worse leaving him needing 24-hour care.

He is in constant pain from his neck down and has excruciating spasticity caused by the infection in his neck which crumbled his vertebrae and depressed his spinal cord.

The couple met in Lincolnshire in 1986 and married in 2004, and moved to Abu Dhabi in 2007 to work but returned to the UK after he fell.

Currently the couple are visited by one carer for two nights per week, who can perform the task of straightening his legs every hour to relieve excruciating leg spasms.

Father-of-one Terence, a retired railway signalman, also requires help every ten minutes with eating, his catheter and is in so much pain he cannot sleep with any fabric next to his skin.

She claims workers from agencies turned up at their flat and would either do crosswords or fall asleep after telling her they could not help him due to ”health and safety” reasons.

Angela is campaigning for Terence to be given Savitex, a cannabis mouth spray used for MS sufferers that will alleviate his pain.

She is also protesting after the NHS cancelled his twice weekly physiotherapy sessions, which she says make caring for him much easier as they improve the pain in his joints.

A spokesman for NHS Peterborough Community Services said they could not discuss individual cases but a ”comprehensive review” of care provided to Terance was carried out.

He said: ”The health 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.”

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