THE daughter of a dying 93-year-man split up from his wife after 66 years together by ‘NHS red tape’ has welcomed comments by a top judge.
Jill Manley was outraged when health bosses refused to allow her dad John Smith return to the care home room he shared with his 87-year-old wife after a severe stroke.
Although they were re-united four days before he died, Mrs Manley believes his ‘broken heart’ hastened his passing and launched a campaign to change NHS rules.
On Tuesday Britain’s most senior family judge Sir James Munby said it was “simply inhumanity” that couples who had spent decades together were split up in their final years.
He said separating elderly couples against their wishes in care homes must end.
Mr Smith, a former Blackburn and Darwen markets manager, died in April last year in the Ravenswing Manor Care Home in Feniscliffe with Marjorie at his side after discharge from the Royal Blackburn Hospital when their family agreed to end all treatment.
Mrs Manley, aged 58, said: “Sir James is spot on.
“Hopefully his comments will speed up change on this issue.
“It broke both my parents hearts and I believe contributed to his death.
“My campaign to stop this happen so no-one has to go through the ordeal my parents and our family went through again continues.
“I have had no apology and no promise of real change.”
Former Blackburn MP Kate Hollern, who took up the case, said: “I am pleased to hear Sir James Munby’s recommendations.
“ Cases such as these are understandably very distressing for all concerned.
“ I have heard first hand from Jill Manley about the devastating effect on her parents”
Iain Fletcher, Head of Corporate Business at Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Following this case, we worked with the other six CCGs in Lancashire to develop a new policy which looked at choice and equity around such health care decisions.
“That is now in place and being followed as we are aware of the effect that such separation can have. However, each case will still need to be reviewed and assessed on merit which is what happened in this instance.”
Pendle Tory candidate Andrew Stephenson and his Liberal Democrat opponent and former Age Concern boss Gordon Lishman backed the judge’s comments.
Sir James, the president of the family division of the High Court, said it was “absolutely shocking and a profound indictment of our society” that elderly, vulnerable couples who wanted to live together were sometimes refused shared accommodation
He said he believed separation from a lifelong companion could be fatal.