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September 2018
Star of the Month
Paula McGowan, campaigner for NHS change
Paula McGowan is pictured above having fun with her son, Oliver. Heartbreakingly, he was later to die in NHS care - aged just 18.
        Oliver had mild autism, epilepsy, a mild learning disability and cerebral palsy. None of that stopped him from making the most of his young life. He played for the cerebral palsy England football squad and was training to be a paralympian. "Oliver was just a nice young lad," Paula says.
        The McGowan family’s nightmare began when Oliver was admitted to Southmead Hospital in Bristol suffering from a simple partial seizure. The hospital ignored Paula’s requests to make “reasonable adjustments”, such as seeing him in a side room, talking to him in a calm voice, breaking language down into small chunks and giving him time to process what was being said.
        Instead, police officers, security guards, nurses and doctors all started asking him questions at the same time, and police held his arms. He became “very scared and agitated”, Paula says.
        It ended with a doctor prescribing an antipsychotic. This was against the express wishes of Oliver’s family and Oliver himself because he had previously reacted badly to an antipsychotic. The drug killed him.
        Paula is now campaigning to ensure that all NHS staff receive autism training. Please read and sign the campaign here:
        Autism Eye’s full feature on Oliver McGowan, ‘Why the NHS must change’, is now available to read online on our Sample Features page here:
Events See All Events
Why the NHS must change
When autistic teenager Oliver McGowan was admitted to hospital, he and his family told doctors not to give him an antipsychotic. But they went ahead anyway and Oliver died. Now, his mum Paula tells Darren Devine of her campaign to ensure all NHS staff receive training in autism and learning disability
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