Imagine being placed in hospital and dying as a result of the lack of care you received. Well, this is what happened to Giuseppe Ulleri, a 61-year-old man who had Down Syndrome. After a total lack of care and failure to feed the man properly, Ulleri went 19 days without food, then died of Pneumonia. The incident harks back to 2016 whereby Mr. Ulleri was unable to digest food through a feeding tube inserted into his body by medical professionals at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. A coroner’s inquiry showed the cause of death to result from improper feeding whilst laying on his back. Clearly the level of care received fell below standards. Mr. Ulleri had Down Syndrome, and some suggest that this contributed to his sub par care. 

Despite his disability, Mr Ulleri led a fit and active life. The reason for his hospitalization was due to a fall at his care home resulting in several broken bones. Mr. Ulleri was supposed to be taken care of and nursed back to health, not starved. Mr Ulleri’s Down Syndrome made the communication of his needs difficult, and this contributed to his lack of care. Rather than taking the time to try to understand what Mr Ulleri was trying to say, the nurses and care staff ignored his needs.  For undisclosed reasons, doctors made him ‘nil by mouth” and inserted a feeding tube. That would prove fatal to Mr Ulleri. It is not known why, but Mr Ulleri went for extended periods without food. The victim’s brother fought to have the tube (which was quickly removed due to discomfort) re-inserted so that his brother could eat. The doctors protested and delayed this procedure -for reasons unknown and ultimately Mr Ulleri died two days later. In total Mr Ulleri spent 19 days without proper food.The incident sent shock waves across the country, angering the public, and resulting in an inquiry into the death of Mr. Ulleri. 

After the inquest a jury found that there was a failure of care and that the hospital and staff were at fault in the death of Mr. Ulleri. In a statement Mr Ulleri’s family called for a wider understanding of the unique needs of Mr Ulleri, and people like him in order to avoid such incidents of negligence moving forward. The hospital and trust in question are vowing to put measures in place to safeguard against a repeat of such a tragedy from happening in the future.

What happened to Mr Ulleri was an utter tragedy, and it makes one ponder the situation. If the hospital had already had measures in place to deal with the unique needs of someone with Down Syndrome or any other learning disability, would this have happened at all? This tragic incident should offer a wake up call to all healthcare facilities and provoke a wider review of how disabled patients are treated in healthcare facilities. It is not known if the family of Mr Ulleri will seek compensation or if it will be offered at this time.