Update: Family of woman who died from ‘natural causes’ days after being admitted to Norwich hospice are still looking for answers
PUBLISHED: 13:38 15 May 2014 | UPDATED: 17:08 15 May 2014
The family of a woman suffering from cancer who died just days after being admitted to a palliative care centre in Norwich have vowed to continue to fight for answers following an inquest into her death.
Mother-of-six Andrea West, 35, who had cervical cancer, died in September 2012 within days of being admitted to Priscilla Bacon Lodge in Norwich.
Mrs West’s death came despite her family being told she could live for several months and sparked claims from her loved ones that she had been placed on an end of life treatment plan, or Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).
But a three day inquest held in Norwich today concluded that Mrs West died from natural causes.
But despite the conclusion, members of Mrs West’s heartbroken family, including mother Janette Green and sister Joanne, have told how they intend to continue to fight for answers as to how she died.
Speaking today after the conclusion of the inquest Mrs Green 59, who lives just off Fifers Lane in Norwich, said; “We’re not happy with the outcome at all - there’s still lots of questions that I need answers to.”
Mrs Green said she hoped to be able to find some money to take the case forward “and try and get the answers we’re looking for”.
In reaching his conclusion Assistant Norfolk Coroner David Osborne said he was satisfied the “catastrophic event” suffered by Mrs West on September 19/20 was a bowel obstruction caused by the progression of her cancer.
He was satisfied there was no proof of a morphine overdose and said the drugs administered to Mrs West were done so at “therapeutic levels”.
In addition Mr Osborne said that the signing of a Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) form had “no direct causal” bearing on Mrs West’s death and furthermore was not on the LCP.
Aside from a conclusion that Mrs West died from “natural causes” Mr Osborne said there was no need for an additional short form.
Prior to giving his conclusion Mr Osborne said that while the inquest has “raised issues around end of life care which can be a difficult and emotive subject it’s not for an inquest to answer wider public policy questions around end of life care”.
The inquest had heard from members of Mrs West’s family, including Mrs Green.
Giving evidence an emotional Mrs Green said she was surprised by the speed of her daughter’s deterioration after her arrival at Priscilla Bacon Lodge on September 15 2012.
She said: “At no point did we think on that day that four or five days later she was not going to be with us anymore.
“She thought she was going to go to theNorfolk and Norwich because of pains in her stomach and was surprised to be at Priscilla Bacon Lodge. She thought she had ended up in the wrong place.”
Mrs Green said she was told “categorically” that Mrs West was not on the LCP.
When asked by Assistant Norfolk Coroner David Osborne if she recalled a conversation with one of the doctors about Mrs West’s request in relation to an agreement in relation to do not attempt CPR she said she could not.
She added: “But I know she would want to be resuscitated because she would have wanted to be alive for as long as she could for her children.”
The inquest also heard from staff at Priscilla Bacon Lodge (PBL) including Suzanne Hogg, an associate specialist nurse in palliative care said treatment was based on symptomatic control, although some of the drugs were used as part of the LCP.
She said Mrs West’s prognosis was thought to be “weeks, possibly months” but said her sudden deterioration was something that can happen and insisted that, in her opinion, the drugs she received made no difference.
Dr Louisa Grant said at no stage during Mrs West’s admission was she on the LCP.
But following the change in her condition Dr Grant, having established the patient had the capacity to understand, said she had spoken to Mrs West about whether or not she wanted to be resuscitated as, given her illness, the chances of it being successful were almost zero.
Mrs West initially agreed and a Do Not Attempt Resuscitation was signed by the doctor who later informed Mrs West’s mother of the decision.
But Dr Grant said the patient later changed her mind following a discussion with her husband.
Following the conclusion of the inquest Mark Easton, interim chief executive at the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust issued a statement. He said: “We note the findings of the coroner, Mr David Osborne, following this inquest.
“We are satisfied that the evidence heard in the court demonstrates that staff provided the very best care possible to this patient at the end of her life.
“We were further assured by comments made by the family’s own solicitor that Mrs West received high quality care.
“We would like to take this opportunity – once again –to offer our deepest sympathies to Mrs West’s family and to offer them any support we can.”