Conisbrough couple hit out at health chiefs over son’s death

Paul Hancock. Picture: Marie Caley NSYT 16-09-14 Hancock MC 2

Paul Hancock. Picture: Marie Caley NSYT 16-09-14 Hancock MC 2

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The heartbroken parents of a teenage boy who died from an epileptic fit in his sleep claim he could have survived if health chiefs had provided them with a specialist alarm system.

Tracy and Wayne Hancock were devastated when they went to wake their disabled son Paul for school and found he had died following a seizure in the night.

Wayne and Tracy Hancock, of Denaby, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley NSYT 16-09-14 Hancock MC 3

Wayne and Tracy Hancock, of Denaby, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley NSYT 16-09-14 Hancock MC 3

The couple believe he could have lived if an epilepsy alarm had been fitted to his bed, which would have warned them he was having a fit.

But they claim they could not get hold of one as the device is not available free through the NHS.

They are now calling on health chiefs to consider making the alarms available universally to epilepsy sufferers at no cost, to potentially save countless lives.

Doncaster NHS chiefs have promised to look into the issue as part of a wider review.

Paul’s stepmum Mrs Hancock, aged 44, of Low Field Walk, Denaby, said: “Paul made everyone he met laugh. If he had one of these alarms he might still be here today. I hope they make them available to more people as I don’t want other people to go through what we have.”

Paul, aged 18, suffered from tuberous sclerosis, which caused him to suffer up to 30 fits a day. He also had two brain tumours. He was found dead a month ago, on August 20.

The family said they had looked into installing an epilepsy alarm - which is placed under the mattress and goes off if it detects sustained body movement - about four years ago, but could not find it available on the NHS.

They then contacted a Scottish-based charity called the Muir Maxwell Trust, which provides the alarms free of charge, but families can be placed on a waiting list with hundreds of pounds needed to be raised first before the alarm could be issued.

Mrs Hancock said epilepsy sufferers should not have to rely on small charities to issue the alarms, but instead they should be made available through mainstream health services.

She said: “These could save lives. They should be offered through the NHS in the first place.”

A spokeswoman for the Muir Maxwell Trust said those in need of an alarm can sometimes be on the waiting list for up to a year, but the amount they need to raise per alarm has been reduced from £1,000 to £500.

A spokesman for NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group said the devices are not available through the NHS because there has not yet been enough detailed testing into their effectiveness.

He added: “One of our epilepsy nurses will advise families to contact a charity which provides them.

“However, we are currently undergoing a review into nursing across the town and we can look into the issue.”