Tina Papalabropoulos was 23 years old and lived at home with her parents and her sister. She died on the 30th of January 2009 at BasildonHospital.
A report published by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman today (Tuesday 21 May) found that BasildonHospital did not give her the treatment she needed or even meet her basic care needs. She suffered several seizures in hospital and went four days without food.
Tina had learning disabilities, epilepsy, Russell-Silver Syndrome (a form of dwarfism), and severe scoliosis of the spine (abnormal curvature of the spine).
Beverley Dawkins, Mencap’s Policy Manager , who has worked with Tina’s family, said:
“Tina’s death was an avoidable tragedy. Her family and Mencap believe that the failings that led to her losing her life at 23 were because doctors held the view that Tina’s life was not worth saving, due to her disability.”
Mencap is deeply concerned that Tina is the fourth person with a learning disability known to Mencap who has died at Basildon Hospital. The hospital must make sure that the measures that they have put in place since Tina’s tragic death will stop other people with a learning disability dying needlessly in their care.
Tina’s mother Christine, who has waited four years for the report, said
“..when your child becomes ill and you need professional help from doctors – you and your child are looked at, and you can see their mind working: is there any point in trying to save this child’s life?
“You can see that they think ‘this child has an existence and not a life’.
“Wrong! This child is loved by all the people, family and friends that they come in contact with. This child is a human being. They just happen to be born with a disability.”
Beverley Dawkins, Mencap’s Policy Manager, continued:
“We welcome the Ombudsman’s finding that service failure resulted in missed opportunities to save this young woman’s life. It is clear that hospital staff and the out of hours GP service missed any opportunity to save a deeply loved and much-missed young woman.
But, this is yet another shocking example of the indifference and substandard care that people with a learning disability face in the NHS. It has taken her family four long years to get any kind of justice for her death. This must not happen again.”
Mencap has campaigned for many years against discrimination in the NHS. In 2007, the publication of its landmark report, Death by Indifference, led to an Independent Inquiry, headed up by Sir Jonathan Michael. The charity has continued to hear from families whose loved ones have died within the NHS. Last year, Mencap launched its report 74 deaths and counting, detailing these cases.
There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability and their families and carers by fighting to change laws and improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.