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Hunstanton woman calls for ‘better communication’ between health services after husband’s death

The wife of a man who had Parkinson’s disease and dementia has said her husband felt “abandoned and concerned” in the years before his death.

It comes after her husband, 66-year-old David Carder from Hunstanton died on March 17 from an ibuprofen overdose.

During an inquest at Norfolk Coroner’s Court on Monday, Mr Carder’s wife Pauline raised concerns about a “lack of communication” between the health services which looked after him.

The inquest took place at Norfolk Coroner’s Court on Monday.
The inquest took place at Norfolk Coroner’s Court on Monday.

A statement from Mr Carder’s wife Pauline was read out in which she said that her husband had struggled with the lack of face-to-face appointments during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Carder also said there had been a lack of communication between mental health services and Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, who were both providing care to Mr Carder prior to his death.

Mr Carder was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2018, shortly before moving to Hunstanton.

Mrs Carder said her husband felt “abandoned and concerned” at times and that his medication was “always changing”.

She added that after the pandemic, family members noticed a significant change in his mobility, memory and ability to socialise.

Mr Carder stopped doing activities he normally enjoyed, such as walking the dog and going to the gym.

Mrs Carder said how she was struggling with her own health problems and that this had upset her husband and it was challenging for them both.

She said they had got “no support” from services during this time.

In 2022, Mr Carder was diagnosed with dementia after displaying symptoms. Mrs Carder also reported having to call the police after her husband had gone missing in the middle of the night.

She said her husband went missing on several occasions and one time he had got the bus from Hunstanton to Lynn without knowing how he had got there.

Mrs Carder said her husband’s “impulsive behaviours” became difficult to deal with and that services felt like “chit chat” and the Parkinson’s team and the mental health team were not discussing his care with each other.

She believed her husband’s overdose was not deliberate and said he was confused and his action was more out of “anger and frustration”.

The inquest also heard from Dr Phillip Buttery, a neurology specialist at the QEH, whose statement was read out.

Dr Buttery gave a “complete and unreserved” apology to Mrs Carder and expressed his concern that Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), the QEH and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust ran on separate IT systems, which he feared could lead to a lack of communication.

He added his time working at the QEH was reduced from two days a week to one day a week.

“Parkinson’s Disease management can be like walking a tightrope of side effects, it's difficult to treat with the right medication balance,” said Dr Buttery.

“What should be in place is more face-to-face appointments, the lack of resources are widespread.

“I have waiting list delays of three to four months, and I’ve been asked to reduce this.

“The IT is a recipe for communication disaster. It’s a miracle it works as well as it does.”

Rebecca Dunsmuir, a mental health nurse from Lynn’s Chatterton House, visited Mr Carder on several occasions and said he was not showing any signs of having suicidal thoughts but was “low in mood” on some visits, but could also be upbeat on other occasions.

On the day he died, Mr Carder was found by his wife sitting in an armchair with an empty packet of ibuprofen nearby. She asked him if he had taken them and he confirmed that he had.

Although he told his wife not to call an ambulance, she did so and her husband was rushed to the QEH, but doctors could not save him.

When approached for comment by the Lynn News, Dr Rebecca Martin, medical director at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said: “On behalf of the trust, I offer our sincere condolences to Mr Carder’s family.

“We have carried out a review of Mr Carder’s care. This patient was under the care of multiple healthcare teams and we sympathise with concerns the family have regarding lack of support due to system pressures at the time.

“The trust has recently engaged in a joint procurement exercise for additional electronic systems to improve communication and patient information sharing.”

A spokesperson from NSFT has said the trust uses Lorenzo electronic patient recording system, however all three organisations are part of Shared Care Record (ShCR) - Norfolk and Waveney ICS, and are working towards “better communication and information sharing”.

Cath Byford, chief people officer and deputy chief executive at NSFT, said: “We would like to take this opportunity to pass our condolences to Mrs Carder and her family for their loss.

“We recognise that service users can find it challenging when they are actively receiving care from several healthcare providers.

“We aim to liaise directly with those other providers whenever necessary so that we can make sure that our patients and their families receive the right care to meet their needs.

“We would encourage Mrs Carder to contact us directly if she has any questions or would like to discuss any aspects of the care which our teams provided to her husband in more detail.”

Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust has been approached for comment.

Area coroner Yvonne Blake gave a short-term narrative conclusion that Mr Carder’s death was of “misadventure” and said Mr Carder had done a “deliberate act without knowing the consequences”.

Mr Carder’s cause of death was identified as bowel ischaemia as a result of an ibuprofen overdose.

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