Epileptic man dies after drastic care cuts

Joe Hamill (third left) and Mark Hamill (second right) Credit: Mark Hamill

A father has blamed cuts to care for the death of his son, who had severe epilepsy and learning difficulties.

Andy Hamill's son Joe lived in supported accommodation, in Bishop's Stortford. He received one-to-one care, which was cut dramatically last December. Joe went from getting 15 hours a day of one-to-one care, to just 15 hours a week.

Andy believes the impact of this change was fatal - Joe died just two weeks ago. However, Joe's care provider, Home Farm Trust, says he'd received more support than was actually authorised.

Credit: Mark Hamill

On the 28th December, Andy received a call from Home Farm Trust, saying his one to one hours had been cut to just 15 a week, with immediate effect.

"Why did they cut his funding to this extent, they knew he had severe epilepsy, they didn't have to do that, without any notice, it was just gone like that, and now Joe's gone."

Mark Hamill
Credit: ITV Anglia

Andy believes the withdrawal of near round the clock care led to Joe not eating properly, which in turn affected his medication.

After Joe's care hours were cut, his family and friends tried to fill the gaps in his care until an appeal could be heard. They visited and called him every day.

Barely three weeks later, Andy got a phone call to say Joe had collapsed.

This week, Andy attended a meeting with Essex County Council and Home Farm Trust.

He says he was told that for the past three years, Home Farm Trust had been wrongly invoicing the council for more hours than they claim Joe had been allocated. Apparently, the council had refused to pay the bill. When the error eventually came to light, Joe's support was cut.

ITV Anglia asked Home Farm Trust to clarify if Joe's hours had changed, and why. They issued the following statement.

"We are all devastated by Joe's sudden and unexpected passing... At the time of Joe's death we were commissioned to provide 35 hours support a week, of which 15 hours were on a one to one basis."

Home Farm Trust

Essex County Council also provided a statement.

"We always seek to agree care packages if possible and would only change agreed packages where there was full consultation with the family."

Essex County Council

Andy is not satisfied with either response, and is waiting for the results of a post mortem examination and inquest to determine the exact cause of Joe's death.