The handcuffing of an 84-year-old Alzheimer’s patient is being condemned by Greater Manchester Police’s Chief Constable – but he claims police are increasingly called out ‘inappropriately’ to deal with medical situations.
Alan Bailey became agitated in an ambulance on the way to Tameside General Hospital, and was handcuffed by a police officer who had been called to assist on the journey.
However Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Peter Fahy said the police do not have the training of medical officers.
“We agree with the man’s family that it was inappropriate for the police to be called to restrain the patient. This is a medical issue and not a police issue,” he said.
“Medical staff receive extensive training to deal with patients in this sort of situation and to recognise warning signs. There is no way we can replicate this level of training.”
An inquest heard yesterday that Mr Bailey died weeks later from a fall, unconnected to the incident.
However the Manchester South coroner, John Pollard, criticised the officer’s actions – and has written to the GMP.
Detective Chief Inspector Koran Sellars, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “Handcuffs were used to prevent Mr Bailey harming himself, the police officer, medical staff in the ambulance and members of the public on the road.
“Due to Mr Bailey’s demeanour and age, attempts at physically restraining him may have led to Mr Bailey sustaining serious injuries, therefore handcuffs were deemed the safest and most reasonable option in the circumstances.”
However medical experts have underlined how important the proper training is when dealing with patients with dementia.
Andrew Chidgey, director of external affairs at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It is vital that all staff who come into contact with people with dementia are given the skills and training to be able to spot the reasons behind these behaviours so they can address them and hopefully reduce them.
“Heavy handed approaches such as handcuffing should only ever be a last resort.”