Disability campaigner enters fourth week of hunger strike

A disabled campaigner has entered the fourth week of a hunger strike to protest the failure of Lambeth Council to provide him adequate care.

Jimmy Telesford, 54, has been without food since 2 October, drinking only Diet 7UP and Diet Coke for hydration and to address his type-two diabetes.

He was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital on Monday, where he agreed to take on food, but he was discharged later the same day before doing so, and has continued his hunger strike since then.

Telesford said: “As far as I am aware, Lambeth Council are just going to leave me to starve myself to death.”

He claims that the council have not reached out to address his concerns, besides to send employees of a care agency about whom Telesford has made a police complaint.

The complaint centres on an alleged assault by one employee some years ago, which Telesford said he was frightened to complain about at the time.

He also said the agency’s general standard of care is poor and that they would give him wet clothes to wear, broke things in his home including his washing machine, and cheated on their hours.

Telesford, who was an advocacy worker with a disability organisation until June, usually receives 24-28 hours support per week.

According to Telesford, the council have offered round-the-clock support in a care facility, but he does not believe he should have to leave his home to access proper care.

He said: “We’re the best people to know what we need and all I want is the support to lead a life like you have, like everyone else has.”

Without support, Telesford is consigned to his bed, taking on fluids when he can.

He said: “Increasingly your body starts to reject fluid because it wants food, so I have to be careful, because then I start having fits. It’s becoming more and more painful.”

When asked for comment, Lambeth Council gave the same response they gave to Disability News Service over a week ago. 

A council spokesperson said: “Lambeth Council has worked to support Mr Telesford over an extended period of time, and we are both alarmed and concerned at the current situation.

“We are listening, and given the breadth of his concerns have offered Mr Telesford an opportunity to discuss and urgently review his services.

“Lambeth Council is determined to provide excellent quality adult services to all that need them in the borough, and remain fully committed to that pledge.”

A spokesperson for NHS South East London Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The CCG is very sorry to hear of Mr Telesford’s situation. 

“His appeal against the outcome of the NHS continuing health care (CHC) assessment, which was made earlier in the year, unfortunately was delayed in line with national guidance issued at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Across the country, work is now getting underway to address those waiting for CHC assessments, including where appeals have been lodged against previous decisions. 

“That work is now starting and Mr Telesford’s appeal will be reviewed as soon as is possible.”

Telesford says he has no intention to end the hunger strike and that he has been considering using private nursing care to help ease the increasing pain as his condition becomes more severe.

He added: “We’re the fifth richest country in the world. What’s happening at the moment is not making anything better for disabled people, in reality it’s just covering up a problem of a system that doesn’t work any more.”

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