A man has starved to death after desperately seeking help from numerous services and being told he must wait 7 months for help.
Anthony Wilkinson, 44, was a chronic alcoholic who had been sober for 14 months. He relapsed shortly before he died, and throughout his relapse he asked multiple services to help him and was in regular contact with them.
However, Mr Wilkinson, from Hull, unintentionally starved to death in his home when his hunger was “satisfied by the intake of alcohol rather than food“.
“We both knew he wouldn’t last 7 months”
A post-mortem by Dr Laszlo Karsai showed that Mr Wilkinson had a high level of ketoacidosis in his body. Dr Karsai said that alcoholics who suffered from it often unintentionally starved to death when their hunger “is satisfied by the intake of alcohol rather than food“.
Mr Wilkinson had chosen to turn down cognitive behavioural therapy from Let’s Talk, because he had been promised help and rehabilitation from the other services. He certainly did not go off the radar, though, as some who suffer with addictions often do. He continued to use the services from a mental health nurse and ReNew. He was also in contact with his GP, and had been prescribed medication for his anxiety.
There seems no question that Mr Wilkinson was determined to beat his illness. He had recovered before and wanted to again. However, there was what appears to be a breakdown of communication between the services, which left him without the help he needed.
As a result, despite Mr Wilkinson being in frequent contact with the various services, he was still unable to access rehab, which was essential to his recovery.
His mother, Lynne Overton, knew that it was imperative that her son got into rehab. She explained to Hull Live:
“He was desperate to stop drinking and was working closely with the NHS and ReNew and wanted to get rehab in Bradford. He found out he wasn’t eligible and got upset because he was looking forward to getting help.
He’d done a course and they said he had to do it again but wouldn’t be able to go for seven months. We both knew he wouldn’t last the seven months.
I went with him to one of his appointments and he told the nurse he was drinking again and wanted to go to rehab. I asked her to ask her manager to get him to rehab and how to reduce his alcohol. She said not to try she would have to get him an appointment because of his medication but that never came before he died.”
It is certainly tragic that Mr Wilkinson should have to repeat a course in order to get access to rehab – which both he and his mother knew was essential to getting through his illness. He died whilst desperately seeking help from numerous services whilst his condition continued to deteriorate. How was this allowed to happen?
“His mental health nurse did a job of four different people”
Mr Wilkinson’s mother said that one of the main issues was that the services did not speak to eachother. To back this up, a report by clinical lead Simon Robinson showed that there was “no joint pathway of care between the agencies” that Mr Wilkinson was using.
Mr Robinson said:
“When people try to stop drinking, you expect a plan to be put in place and there should have been structured after care there. There should be a joint pathway of treatment and should be general guidelines.
“(His mental health nurse) did a job of four different people and sought advice to try and find out but they would give it without understanding alcohol dependency. There are things happening to address the issue of expertise. There should be a dual diagnoses for that pathway.”
Mr Wilkinson died at home after vomitting blood and mucus the day before. His mother described him as a proud man who loved to cook. She said he had a happy childhood and had always put 100% into work.
He had tried to get help, yet had been let down. How many people with chronic illnesses and addictions does this have to happen to before something changes? How many people have to die whilst begging for help before people realise they did not choose a life – and death – living with illness and addiction?