Hospital cleared in 91-year-old's death

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Hospital staff were today cleared of withholding food and water from a 91-year-old stroke victim who allegedly asked for a beetroot sandwich hours before her death.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Hospital staff were today cleared of withholding food and water from a 91-year-old stroke victim who allegedly asked for a beetroot sandwich hours before her death.

Olive Nockels suffered a massive stroke in September 2003 and was admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. But she died on October 10.

An Inquest in Norwich this afternoon ruled that she died of natural causes after considering legal arguments from her daughter Ivy West and grandson Christopher that the withdrawal of fluids had contributed to her death.

The pair had secured a High Court order to make doctors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital give Mrs Nockels fluids - after treatment had been stopped for four days because of a build up of excess body fluid.

They had claimed that the former school matron had asked for a beetroot sandwich, tea and macaroni cheese.

Most Read

But recording a verdict of death by natural causes Norwich coroner William Armstrong said he found no evidence that staff had failed to follow guidelines on treatment.

And he said because of the severity of her stroke, which had left her in a comatose state, he did not accept that Mrs Nockels had been capable of asking for food.

“She didn't die of dehydration, she didn't die of starvation,” he said. “There was no sense that Olive Nockels' death was anything other than natural.”

After the hearing Mr West said he was disappointed with the ruling. He said he was trying to do the best for his grandmother and would do the same thing again.

“At the time we were told that she was going to have all her fluids taken away, we weren't given the reasons why and we weren't told she was fluid overloaded or anything like that,” he said.

“My grandmother wasn't a piece of paper or guidelines in a report, she is a human being at the end of the day they shouldn't go by what the guidelines are they should treat people individually.”

And he insisted his grandmother had asked for food.

“If they don't believe us, that's up to them,” he added. “They didn't spend five, six or seven hours at a time with her.”

In a statement afterwards Ivy West said: “We are glad that our very real concerns about my mother's treatment have been raised and heard in public.

“We hope this will give families of stroke victims the confidence to ask for adequate nutrition and hydration for those who have suffered a stroke

“We are seeking legal advice about whether the coroner's comments on the GMC guidance were legally correct.”