MP Chris Skidmore backs local mum Paula McGowan’s campaign

Local MP Chris Skidmore recently spoke in a debate in Parliament regarding Autism and Disability Training for Healthcare Professionals, after a successful campaign by local mum Paula McGowan saw her petition reach more than fifty-one thousand signatures.

Paula McGowan’s son Oliver tragically died in November 2016 at Southmead Hospital at the age of eighteen, after an adverse reaction to the anti-psychotic medication Olanzapine. Oliver had autism and a mild learning disability, and his parents believe that lack of awareness and training on behalf of Oliver’s health care team on these conditions was a contributory cause in his death. Both they and Oliver had explained to staff that he had previously experienced an allergic reaction to Olanzapine.

Paula’s brave campaign for health care professionals to receive mandatory training on autism and learning disabilities has been extremely successful and her petition, which has so far attracted more than fifty-one thousand signatures, was debated in Parliament on 22nd October.

Paula says: “We believe that Oliver’s death was very preventable. We believe that Oliver was given excessive drugs due to medical staff not understanding autism impacted by seizure activity. They did not ever try to adapt the environment to meet his needs, but used excessive restraint methods.

“If the guidelines and principles from NHS England’s STOMP—stopping the over-medication of people who have learning disabilities—project had been followed with healthcare professionals ​being able to listen to family and specialist colleagues, then we firmly believe that Oliver would still be here today. We believe that Oliver’s premature death should be in the public’s interest, and I challenge the Government to: ask people with a learning disability, autism or both, their families and carers for their opinion and concerns about treatment; listen to all involved and show respect to those opinions and concerns; and do something about it and work in partnership with us.

“Specifically, NHS professionals who provide specialist care in learning disability and autism should: put people at the heart of all decision making; respect our point of view; not make decisions without us; and enable us to understand complex decisions in a way that is relevant to all and provide information and explanation.”

In the debate, Chris Skidmore said: “As a local Member of Parliament, I was in contact with Paula after Oliver passed away to support her when she approached the local police and coroner’s office to ask for an investigation into the death of her son. I will continue to offer all the support that I can.

“I am encouraged that the Government have accepted all the recommendations from the learning disabilities mortality review, including recommendation 6, which proposes the introduction of mandatory training for all health and care staff. I am also pleased that they have committed to delivering that training in partnership with people with experience, including families and parents like Paula.

“I welcome the Government’s proposals for a consultation on options for delivering that essential training to staff, which is due to be completed by the end of March 2019. With that in mind, I would welcome it being arranged for Paula to meet the Minister to discuss Oliver’s campaign and its consequences, and for this work to continue.

To watch the full debate please follow this link: https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/b10b5496-54a6-4262-bb54-5c74e…