Lorry driver Matthew Fulcher developed asthma in his late teens. His mum Susan tells his story.
“He was very vigilant with his inhalers and medication and had regular check-ups with his GP/visits to the asthma clinic. However, when his marriage broke down he moved back in with me and joined a new GP surgery, which is when his care started to deteriorate. In December 2012, he had a bad chest infection and cough. He refused to visit the GP as he felt no one ever took any notice of his condition but he was finally persuaded to go.
“I could hear his chest rattling from across the room so I knew it was bad but apparently the doctor didn’t even look up from his computer – he just prescribed without even listening to Matthew’s chest. The infection seemed to shift but he was left with a residual cough.
On April 5, 2013, Matthew’s lorry was involved in an accident – it hit a curb and tipped and he was pronounced dead at the scene. A post mortem revealed he died as the result of a sudden and massive asthma attack which rendered him unconscious. After he died his lorry was tracked and showed him trying to get off the M6 to safety. I can only guess he was coughing and coughing and his body eventually emptied of oxygen.
“I feel he should have at least been given a chest X-ray when he visited the GP at Christmas to check nothing else was going on. If he’d been given the attention he deserved in the first place he might have at least gone back when the cough didn’t clear, and who knows how different things may have been then. Perhaps a more diligent approach from the GP would have saved him.
“In adults asthma doesn’t seem to be taken as seriously. When a child is in distress people take note but when it’s a strapping 42-year-old man it’s not looked at in the same light. The attention just didn’t seem to be there – as far as I’m aware he didn’t have an action plan and I don’t recall him ever having an asthma review with the GP/nurse in the three years he was living with me.
Matthew’s brother is also a lorry driver and has to pass the spot his brother died regularly. Matthew had never previously been hospitalised through an attack. He leaves behind a five-year-old daughter.
Matthew deserved better care and so does everyone else. Almost half the deaths included in the National Review of Asthma Deaths could have been prevented with better routine care.