Health trusts scrutinised after death of Chidham mother

A&E, St Richard's Hospital '''Picture by Louise Adams C140028-2 Chi St Richard's Hospital ENGSUS00120140113154222
A&E, St Richard's Hospital '''Picture by Louise Adams C140028-2 Chi St Richard's Hospital ENGSUS00120140113154222

A CORONER has highlighted ‘clear differences’ in care provided by two health trusts – after the tragic death of a mother.

An inquest into the death of Janet Blackman, 66, of Hamstead Meadow, Chidham, took place at Edes House in Chichester, on Tuesday.

Mrs Blackman was admitted to St Richard’s Hospital in May 2013, after she became confused.

“I really thought she was having a mental breakdown,” said Jo Collard, Mrs Blackman’s daughter.

The former psychological counsellor was admitted to the hospital’s acute medical unit and treated for hypothyroidism.

But Mrs Blackman was reluctant to take medication, food and fluids.

“They left it to me to persuade her to take medication,” said Mrs Collard.

Mrs Blackman was transferred to the Harold Kidd unit in Chichester, which is run by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. But she collapsed and was transferred back to St Richard’s Hospital where tests were done. Mrs Blackman was eventually taken back to the unit where she collapsed again – dying a day later at St Richard’s.

Giving evidence at the inquest, Dr Robert Haigh from Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the relationship between the two trusts was ‘good’ with ‘clear pathways’ for patient care.

But Dr Richard Dent, expert witness, said Mrs Blackman could not get the ‘excellent’ expertise from the mental health team without ‘moving to a unit’.

He said it was ‘possible’ to have a designated mental health nurse on the hospital ward although it wasn’t national practice.

“If they are going to be geographically separate, I think there is a strong case for believing there should be this arrangement in these situations.”

Dr Dent said more ‘effort’ should have been made by the hospital to monitor Mrs Blackman’s fluids and blood test results.

Post mortem results revealed Mrs Blackman died of a pulmonary embolism caused by deep-vein thrombosis.

A statement released by the Blackman family said: “We were concerned at the time about the care she received and the focus being too much on her psychological condition rather than her medical and physical condition.”

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, deputy assistant coroner Michael Burgess said there were ‘clear differences’ of care by the two units.

“I can see the problems between the two different sites with two different agendas,” he said.

Mr Burgess is set to write a report to prevent any future deaths – recommending plans to ‘cut through the difficulties’ of care across 
the two sites.

Cathy Stone, director of nursing at Western Sussex Hospitals said: “Our thoughts are with Mrs Blackman’s family at this very difficult time and we offer

them our sincere condolences.

“We carried out a full investigation into the circumstances leading up to her death and identified a number of areas for improvement, including the way we work with our colleagues in mental health.

“We have met with Mrs Blackman’s family to share our findings and also discussed them with our clinical teams to ensure lessons are learned.”