Brother tells of his ‘anger and bitterness’ after his sister choked to death on a piece of chicken at Harleston secure hospital

Richmond House in Harleston. Photo: Google Maps

Richmond House in Harleston. Photo: Google Maps - Credit: Google Maps

The brother of a woman who died after choking on a chicken bone at a secure hospital in Harleston has spoken of his 'anger and bitterness' following her death.

Theresa Barrett. Photo: Robert Barrett

Theresa Barrett. Photo: Robert Barrett - Credit: Robert Barrett

Robert Barrett, 49, spoke out after the inquest into the death of his sister, Theresa Barrett, ended last week. Following a three-day jury inquest, Miss Barrett's death on September 23, 2016, was ruled an accident.

The court heard Miss Barrett had eaten a piece of chicken brought into Richmond House hospital, in Harleston, by another patient, who had been out for the morning. But as this was a snack, Miss Barrett was alone when she ate, and subsequently choked on the food.

Various members of staff attempted to help Miss Barrett and paramedics were called but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

MORE: Woman who choked on piece of chicken at Harleston secure hospital had choked on food before, inquest hearsMr Barrett, a site manager who lives in Chingford, travelled to Norwich for the inquest along with other members of his family.


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'She got on so well with everyone,' Mr Barrett said of his younger sister, who was one of seven children. 'She was a real family girl. She was slow learner and she struggled in the real world but we all stuck by each other.'

Norfolk Coroner's Court heard that before her death, Miss Barrett had previously choked on her food and was known to eat too fast. But some staff were not aware of this and a risk assessment form had not been carried out as expected.

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'I am bitter and angry because nothing was put in place,' Mr Barrett said. 'She was too young to die, her time was not ready yet.'

Mr Barrett remembered his sister - who would have been 46 on Wednesday - as enjoying her music.

MORE: Death of woman who choked on chicken at Harleston secure hospital ruled an accident'We've been through seven months of this, the funeral and the inquest. When I hear certain songs, like Michael Jackson, I'll remember her. I hope no other family ever has to go through what we've been through.'

A hospital spokesman said: 'Miss Barrett was a kind, sociable and friendly person and our sympathies are with her family. We take the safety and wellbeing of all of our patients extremely seriously and are pleased that the coroner has agreed lessons have been learned following this accident. We regularly review our practices and procedures to manage choking risks and will consider the inquest findings carefully.'

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