October 13, 2003
A judge has called on officials to solve the problem of a disabled woman who has been forced to sleep in her wheelchair for more then a year.
Lorraine Wolstenholme, who has multiple sclerosis, has not slept in a bed for 15 months because her carers have not been allowed to lift her.
A month ago, Mrs Wolstenholme, 50, of Monkston, Milton Keynes, applied for permission to legally challenge rules laid down by her local hospital trust.
The case was adjourned pending an expert report on the dangers posed to carers and to Mrs Wolstenholme by her condition, which can cause sudden involuntary spasms.
On Monday, High Court judge Mr Justice Maurice Kay heard that a lifting regime for bedroom and bathroom was being devised on the basis of the expert's report.
But local authority carers would have to be specially trained and more time was needed. Special meetings were scheduled this week and next.
The judge granted Mrs Wolstenholme leave for an urgent judicial review hearing next month, but said he hoped Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust and Milton Keynes Council would reach a "sensible resolution" in the meantime and make that hearing unnecessary.
"I appreciate that the parties are hard-pressed, but it seems to me the circumstances of this case justify very early attention being given to the resolution of this dispute," he said.
The court heard last month that Mrs Wolstenholme had decided she would rather remain in the wheelchair in her specially-adapted council bungalow than be bedridden - probably in hospital - for the rest of her life.
Her counsel, Murray Hunt, told the court that nurses who helped her out of bed were withdrawn by the trust in June last year because of perceived dangers of lifting her, though she weighs only eight-and-a half stone.
Mr Hunt said: "Too much weight was attached to the interests of the
carers and not enough to those of the disabled person."
Copyright © 2003, BBC