Justice for Jennifer
Who Am I? I am Angela Lewis, fifty years old, born four years before Jennifer. I was one of Jennifer’s carers for the last twenty years of her life. It was a difficult time combining work and caring. I am devastated that the treatment Jennifer received by the NHS, as a vulnerable adult, led to the shortening of her life
About Jennifer…Jennifer was the youngest of eight siblings- a lovely baby, with big eyes. She was generally good natured and easy-going. The daughter of a hospital cleaner and a factory worker, she excelled academically and went on to read Law at Queen Mary and Westfield in London. In her first year, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Yet for the next twenty years she lived a full and “normal” life with a routine, and support from doctors, her church, family and friends that kept her stable and independent. She fulfilled her ambition to complete a degree.
Bariatric (Barbaric!) Surgery. Medication maintained Jennifer's mental wellbeing but caused her to gain a lot of weight. In her youth, Jennifer had been tall and willowy. She went to see a specialist about having a gastric band. She returned with a determination to undergo full bariatric surgery. We (family and friends) strongly objected to bariatric surgery - we knew she would not be able to cope with the demands of taking a plethora of nutrients and denying herself of certain foods for the rest of her life, would be too much for her. Having researched it, Jennifer gave the “right answers” to the doctors. They wrongly assessed her as having “capacity” to make a choice. We knew that she would not be able to cope.
In 2010, the surgeon chose to remove a large section of Jennifer's stomach and intestine in one go. A less radical two-stage surgery, for those at risk, such as Jennifer, was discounted. Both the psychiatric and the bariatric teams consistently failed Jennifer by neglecting her other needs whilst in their care. Post-surgery, Jennifer was not able to take the vital nutrients, so another surgical procedure was performed: this time it was a feeding tube. As Jennifer's physical health deteriorated and she was less able to make a reasoned choice, it remained in place for almost a decade and she refused to allow it to be cleaned and maintained. None of the doctors did anything to remove it. She died with it in place. She never got the care she deserved. This undoubtedly shortened her life. It also destroyed the remaining life she had - it became one of constant pain and nausea, turmoil and confusion. Jennifer was locked up, against her will for years, sometimes catatonic and at other times, angry and frustrated, lashing out at others.
“These doctors are killing me!” – Jennifer two months before her death. In the last months of Jennifer's life she lost her hair, was emaciated, and could barely walk. The family's cries that she was being allowed to die were denied by the Consultant Psychiatrist, where she was being detained, with the empty promise that “we will not let it come to that”. They used force for mental health drugs but not nutritional ones. They traumatised her body further with ECT (electric shock) even when her body was emaciated, her hair had fallen out, her legs were swollen/infected and she was so feeble that she was barely able to walk. She was not physically able to bear such tortuous treatment but the doctors refused to listen to our pleas for mercy. Her suffering was to come to an end shortly afterwards.
After years of needless suffering and indignity, Jennifer died on the 31st July 2017 as a result of malabsorption (essentially starvation). Jennifer starved to death in the care and keeping of a multi-disciplinary health team who failed her repeatedly over a decade. She was only 44 years old. Jennifer's loss to us is hugely painful. It has left a gap in the lives of three generations of a large, extended family and many friends.
What Are Our Aims?
We want to send a clear message to doctors and institutions: they must treat the whole person. They took action that destroyed and shortened Jennifer’s life and for this they are accountable. They had a duty of care which they did not fulfil with catastrophic consequences. No other person should suffer in this way and no other family should have to experience such an unnecessary and painful loss. We are seeking justice for Jennifer and protection for others in the future.
How Much Do We Need To Raise?
The solicitor has told us that the cost of the Pre-Inquest and the Inquest itself will be £46,000. Should justice be dependent on ability to pay for it? We ask you to help us so that we can continue to seek justice for a life that was so needlessly cut short.
There are no public comments on this case page.