Dying Darwen man denied pacemaker
9:05am Monday 3rd February 2014 in News
FURIOUS pensioner Bob Sharples says doctors have refused to fit him with a pacemaker because he has terminal cancer.
The 74-year-old from Darwen claims it was a ‘financial decision’ and he feels ‘badly let down by the people who should care most’.
Mr Sharples has developed a serious heart condition since being diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in August last year, and was told he would need a pacemaker fitted last month.
But his discharge notes from the Royal Blackburn Hospital, seen by the Lancashire Telegraph, said the cardiology team had decided not to proceed, because of his poor cancer prognosis and a lack of symptoms from the heart condition.
Hospital bosses said all decisions on treatment or intervention are based ‘entirely on clinical need’. They have offered the dad-of-three a meeting with the consultant to discuss his concerns.
The retired electrician claimed a consultant told him fitting the pacemaker would be ‘too expensive for someone with your condition’.
Mr Sharples, who volunteered as a special policeman for 25 years, said: “I’m so angry and upset and can’t believe they can just write me off and wash their hands of me. I’ve given a lot to society to just get a kick in the teeth, and I feel let down by the people who are supposed to care the most.”
The Dorset Avenue resident’s discharge notes state: “The patient has been asymptomatic for last three months, no dizziness or collapses. Reviewed by oncology and stated, and stated clearly, that he got [sic] very poor prognosis. Life expectancy usually in this condition is seven to nine months.
“In these circumstances and with this 24 ECG (heart monitor) result, cardiology team usually proceed with PPM (pacemaker). But in view of the poor prognosis and being asymptomatic for the last few months, cardiology team decided not to proceed with any intervention/PPM at present.”
Darwen MP Jake Berry said: “In tragic cases like this the hospital should be concentrating on ensuring the patient has the best possible quality of life.
“It is quite wrong that they impose this sort of rationing on someone.
“Mr Sharples can contact me and I will help him as much as I can.
“I want the hospital to concentrate on the quality of life, not the length.”
Mr Sharples said the cancer had spread to his liver and he was receiving chemotherapy until October, but said the intensive treatment had caused some damage to his heart.
After feeling dizzy and breathless medics put him on a heart monitor last month.
Wife Joan, 63, said they then received a call on January 21 and were told Mr Sharples should attend the hospital immediately.
She added: “We presume it was very urgent because they called at 8pm and said he would need to come in.
“We were told about the readings on the monitor and that he would need a pacemaker, but then the next day they said it wasn’t going ahead.
“It just seems like they’re just sending him home to die, but it’s still a life and worth just as much as any other. They should be doing everything they can to prolong it, even if it’s just a few months.
“We can’t afford to do it privately, as we’re already saving frantically for his funeral. He’s been very depressed and feels like they just want him off the books.”
A spokesman for East Lancashire Hopsitals NHS Trust said: “Clinical and medical information given and received either during a consultation or sent to a patient via the post following consultation or discharge is strictly confidential.
“All decisions for treatment or intervention are based entirely on clinical need.
“The trust has contacted Mr Sharples and a meeting has been arranged between the consultant and the manager of the cardiology service.”
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