‘I fear for my dying brother if allowed to leave hospital’

Blank Caption
Blank Caption

A Derry man who says his brother is dying as a result of chronic alcoholism has hit out at addiction treatment services in the Western Trust.

Hazelbank man Terry Doherty is angry that his brother is able to refuse treatment and sign himself out of Altnagelvin hospital when he “is in no mentally fit state to do so”.

He told the ‘Journal’ he believes his brother Jim (49), who is riddled with illness resulting from chronic alcoholism, will meet the same fate as the late Harry Jack - a chronic alcoholic who was found dead from hypothermia in a Waterside cemetery two days after leaving Altnagelvin Hospital in 2006. Mr Jack was agitated and hallucinating while in the hospital before leaving the facility and Mr Duddy says he believes his brother is suffering in a similar manner.

“Jim doesn’t know what he’s doing, he hasn’t got his full faculties but yet he is able to sign himself out of hospital whenever he wants and without anyone contacting his next of kin. I’m afraid he’s going to be found dead after leaving the hospital. A consultant has told me that he is medically fit and over 18 and that staff can’t keep him there if he wants to leave,” Mr Duddy said.

However, Mr Duddy said a GP had told him that his brother had suffered brain damage as a result of alcoholism as well as kidney failure and liver failure.

Mr Duddy explained that his brother “is not competent”. “Jim is brain damaged, when you ask him he doesn’t know what day it is or what he’s doing but when he refuses treatment they just let him go - is that responsible?”

He added: “Someone without their full faculties should not be allowed to leave the hospital himself. I can’t believe this is still going on after what happened to Harry Jack a few years ago. I know for a fact that Jim will end up the same way - he could fall under a bus or fall asleep somewhere. In my opinion, he’s not mentally fit in any way.”

Mr Duddy said he was so frustrated with the system he was forced to make his feelings public in an effort to help people in the same position as his brother.

“Jim’s time is up near enough - I know and the GP knows that he probably only has a matter of weeks to live - but there are plenty of others coming after him who are in the same situation. The whole attitude to alcoholism has to change in the Health Service - I’m totally disgusted with it.

“Jim needs medical assistance, it’s obvious but the only way we can get him into hospital for treatment is when the House in the Wells refuses to take him.”

A spokesperson for the Western Trust said he could not comment on individual cases. However, he stated: “We do have alcohol addiction services for patients should they wish to avail of them.”