Lung patient made hunger strike threat

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A BRAVE grandfather became so frightened of being admitted to Chorley Hospital because of his care there that he threatened to stop taking his medication and go on hunger strike.

Pete Brown’s devastated wife, Sue has described how he would have to spend hours in the accident and emergency department and days on the medical assessment unit before he would be transferred onto a ward – despite being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in 2002 and being under a specialist at the hospital.

His health had deteriorated so much that he could no longer make clinic appointments and was given no choice but to go through the same process over again - despite being desperately ill.

However, the 67-year-old had his dying wish granted when a team of doctors, district nurses and staff from St Catherine’s Hospice stepped in to allow him to die at home surrounded by his family.

Sue, who has spoken out to thank them, said: “Telling my story seemed to be one of the ways in which I could thank them, but no words come close to the respect I have for these people.

“Pete had been suffering from a bad back and had to have an x-ray in 2002.

“It showed that he had some scarring on his lung and he was sent to a lung specialist who diagnosed him with pulmonary fibrosis.

“The condition causes breathlessness and he had to be checked for a couple of years but a long-term prognosis was never discussed.”

Sue, who married Pete in 1999, said the keen biker had realised something was wrong in 2011 when he started to get out of breath walking up hills, which he had once found a ‘doddle’.

She added: “After years of feeling fine, it suddenly started to become a problem and he suffered two chest infections and it went from bad to worse.

“He had been a very healthy and active man who loved being out on his motorbike, cycling and swimming.

“It soon got to the point that he was so poorly that he couldn’t make it to the clinics to see his specialist as they wouldn’t accept stretcher cases.

“They said the only option would be for him to be admitted on to the ward, but he’d have to go through A and E.

“He’d have to spend hours on there and then be transferred to the medical assessment unit and he would be asked the same questions over and over again despite the doctors on the ward knowing all about his case.

“He also became worried about the treatment he was receiving and the basic care as he was struggling physically.

“In the end he was frightened to be admitted.”

Sue said that Pete, an avid Blackpool FC fan who was a retired officer at Lancashire County Council, had such bad experiences at the hospital that he refused to go back and told her he was going to give up his medication and would stop eating.

“We felt so desolate,” she added.

“We couldn’t make it to the appointments for the clinic and we were worried about his condition, but it felt like a constant battle to get help.

“Pete couldn’t even make it to the car.

“I decided to ring Dr Barker at the Library House Surgery out of desperation.

“He wasn’t even Pete’s doctor, but he came out the same day and within a week everything was sorted.

“Simon Walker came from the Palliative Team at St Catherine’s and Sara Donnelly, a community care matron, along with a team of district nurses.

“They told Pete he’d never have to go back to hospital and it was such a relief for him.

“They also looked at his medication and helped make him comfortable.

“They managed to turn the situation completely around and it was as simple as one phone call.

“Pete was able to die with dignity at home because of them.

“I can’t thank them enough for what they have done.

“It’s sometimes hard to remember the good things in times like these, but they were all so wonderful and I’ll never forget what they did.

“Dr Barker and Pete’s own doctor,
Dr Heald, were fantastic – in fact, everyone was absolutely amazing.

“They used to say that it was there job, but it was much more than that.

“Those services were already in place and didn’t require extra funding – just a bit of communication from the hospital.”

Paying tribute to her husband, who died on February 20, Sue said: “He was a very loving, caring and very focused person.

“I had first met him at a job interview and a while later he saw me at Marks and Spencer and kept trying to bump
in to me to ask me out.

“I’m so glad he did.”

A spokesman for Chorley and South Ribble District Hospital said they would not comment on individual cases.