Having lost my daughter Helen four years ago, I reflect on the various chapters of her life. I recall when Helen was born and my emotions after I was told she had developmental difficulties. She grew up so quickly, attending what were then called “special schools”. My husband Mike and I did not always see eye to eye when it came to Helen, but we did watch her strive to gain her independence. How proud we felt when Helen moved into a flat, where she was able to live her life as she wished with a degree of support. I was ecstatic when she achieved her ultimate goal, her own little house.
In the context of Helen's achievements, we arrive at the final chapter of her life and her death – the problems with the GPs, not least their woeful lack of knowledge, which is utterly unforgivable given how we entrust medical professionals with our loved ones' lives. Then we come to the problems with the Primary Care Trust (PCT) and the General Medical Council (GMC), both of which simply passed the buck with little thought for our family. And finally the ombudsman's cruel final verdict: no further investigation. We have nowhere else to go.
My frustration and anger at the PCT and the GMC were dwarfed by my feelings towards the two GPs involved. The first GP showed little care and compassion during Helen's initial appointment, yet worse were the devastating consequences of the GP's ill-advised prescription. The second GP told a version of events at the inquest. I cannot disprove his version, but he and I both know in our hearts what happened on his visit, just days before Helen died.
Writing this book has been therapeutic for me, giving me the time and space to remember Helli, my beautiful and special daughter. Yet this book has a wider purpose, that is to encourage greater awareness of the mistakes medical professionals can and do make, and to show how the fight to secure justice for our nearest and dearest may ultimately be futile.