'They were treated like dogs waiting to be put down': Son of couple put on 'death pathway' blasts decision to withdraw treatment
War veteran Charles Futcher died after being put on Liverpool Care PathwayWife Hilda who was also put on pathway, died ten days after her husband
Son Charles Futcher said the decision was made without family consentMail revealed 60,000 patients die a year on pathway without their consent
10:44 GMT, 1 January 2013
A war veteran and his wife died within days of each other after being put on the Liverpool Care Pathway without consent.
Charles Futcher, 90, who fought in the battle of El Alamein, died alone in a care home after he was put on the controversial end-of-life process.
Ten days later his wife Hilda, 89, died in the same home after she too was given sedatives and had vital food and fluids withdrawn under pathway procedures.
Charles and Hilda Futcher died within ten days of one another after being put on sedatives while on Liverpool Care Pathway 'without family consent'
Their son, Charlie, said his parents had been treated ‘like animals who needed to be put down’ by doctors who ‘seemed to take it upon themselves to get rid of them’.
The 62-year-old, who was at his mother’s side when she died, said the couple’s treatment had been grotesque and claimed they were put on the pathway without consultation.
Just two weeks before his death, Mr Futcher had celebrated his 90th birthday at a family party.
‘He was in a wheelchair and was in discomfort, but he was compos mentis and you could speak to him about anything, he was sharp,’ his son said.
Son Charles Jr said his parents were treated like 'animals who needed to be put down'
his sister received a telephone call from the care home to tell her
that their father, a former ambulance driver, had been put on sedatives,
Mr Futcher Jr did not think it meant he was seriously ill. As a result,
the old soldier died without any of his family being present.
Futcher Jr said: ‘I would not have wanted my father to suffer if he had
been riddled with cancer or his diabetes was killing him, or if he had
made the decision to go.
‘I would have just liked to have been there with him.
‘But somebody else was making those decisions and not telling us.’
After his father died, Mr Futcher Jr, a former teacher who owns a hotel in the Peak District of Derbyshire, lost all faith in those caring for his mother at the care home in Petersfield, Hampshire.
‘I just didn’t trust them so I stayed with her all the time,’ he said. ‘Her dementia was quite bad, but she knew people.
‘She couldn’t hold a conversation any more but she knew who I was and would give me a hug.’
Mr Futcher Jr claims that within days of his father’s death, care home staff stopped giving his mother food or fluids and her health deteriorated rapidly.
He said: ‘They were telling me that she’d forgotten how to eat and when I arrived there she was so frail.
‘I held her hand up to the light and could see the blood going through her veins, that’s the state they got her into. We had a family friend there and I said, “There’s no way that my mother is refusing food and we have to get some fluids in there”.
‘I went and bought a baby’s feeding bottle and put some water into it and she just sucked it down. You just couldn’t pull it out of her mouth.’
Praise: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt described the pathway as 'a fantastic step forward'
Futcher Jr claims the same GP who allowed his father to be put on the
Liverpool Care Pathway authorised district nurses to put his mother on
sedatives without his even having visited her.
added: ‘It was a grotesque death. When I watched my mother die over
those 33 hours she was so thin and dehydrated, it actually changed the
shape of her head.
like taking your animals to the vet. I’ve got dogs and they get old and
you agree to put them down. It’s no different to that, no different at
Norman Boyes, practice manager at the Swan Surgery in Petersfield, where Mr and Mrs Futcher’s doctor worked, said: ‘We are sorry if anyone is unhappy with the care and advice provided.
‘The practice has a formal complaints procedure, and we would encourage any of the family members who have any concerns to contact us directly.’
Mr Futcher Jr’s Czech-born mother was at a wartime refugee camp when she met his father, who was on duty there after serving in the Eighth Army under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.
The Liverpool Care Pathway is designed to ease the suffering of terminally ill patients in their final hours and can involve the withdrawal of foods and fluids as well as the use of sedatives such as morphine.
Yesterday the Mail revealed that up to 60,000 patients die on the pathway each year without giving their consent.
Yet Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has described the pathway as ‘a fantastic step forward’ – and dismissed concerns as based on matters ‘going wrong in one or two cases’.
‘It’s basically designed to bring hospice-style care to terminally ill people in hospitals,’ he said.
Mr Hunt added that many patients did not want to die ‘with lots of tubes going in and out of their body’ but would prefer their last moments to be dignified.