Tuesday, 18 November, 2003
A disabled woman who has slept in her wheelchair for more than a year could soon be able to use her own bed again.
Nurses caring for Lorraine Wolstenholme stopped manually lifting her from the wheelchair in case they were injured.
But on Tuesday a High Court judge ordered new arrangements for moving the multiple sclerosis sufferer from her wheelchair to bed should be fully implemented again by 19 December 2003.
Mrs Wolstenholme, 50, of Monkston, Milton Keynes, has not slept in a bed for since June 2002 after her local health care trust said there were perceived dangers for its staff when lifting her.
Date set for hearing
Mr Justice Kay told the hearing in London he had not ordered new arrangements to start instantly as he realised the difficulties involved.
"One can well understand why Mrs Wolstenholme who has spent virtually 24 hours a day in her wheelchair for some 17 months should be anxious for some form of relief," he said.
"However, interim relief calls for a degree of restraint in circumstances such as this."
The judge made the order pending a two-day High Court hearing, expected to start on 19 January 2004, to examine the complex legal case in full.
Lawyers will have to balance what should be done to enable Mrs Wolstenholme to "maintain her dignity and independence" against concern for the carers wellbeing.
A particular worry was that there was a "high risk" carers might suffer injury because Mrs Wolstenholme's condition caused sudden involuntary spasms.
Her lawyers have argued "too much weight was attached to the interests of the carers and not enough to those of the disabled person".
Murray Hunt, for Mrs Wolstenholme, told the judge he felt the reinstatement of his client's care had not moved fast enough.
"She is still sleeping in her wheelchair, still without vital community care services in her home, and still wholly dependent on her daughter Karen, who weighs less than her," he said.
Jeremy Hyam, for Milton Keynes NHS Primary Care Trust, which provides care along with Milton Keynes Council said there was no need for further court action.
He said the trust and local social services had taken several steps to solve the problem.
He said it was "simply not the case" that nothing was being done.
Copyright © 2003, BBC