Woman who choked on piece of chicken at Harleston secure hospital had choked on food before, inquest hears

Norfolk Coroner's Court. Photo by Simon Finlay

Norfolk Coroner's Court. Photo by Simon Finlay - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A woman who died after choking on a chicken thigh at a Harleston secure hospital had previously choked on her food and was known to eat too fast.

A woman who died after choking on a chicken thigh at a Harleston secure hospital had previously choked on her food and was known to eat too fast.

Theresa Barrett, 45, died on September 23 last year at Richmond House, a eight-bed locked community rehabilitation hospital where she was sectioned under the mental health act.

A jury at Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich this morning heard how Miss Barrett had suffered with mental health difficulties since around the age of 20, and had paranoid schizophrenia, learning disabilities and a personality disorder.

Dr Ignatious Gunaranta, Miss Barrett's consultant psychiatrist, told the jury he had not been aware of a previous choking incident in February 2016 or a form filled out by a member of staff in October 2015 which indicated Miss Barrett had problems with swallowing or chewing food. It was not until after her death he was made aware of these in her notes.


You may also want to watch:


On the form, read out by senior coroner Jacqueline Lake, it also said: 'She often does not finish a meal or will gag when eating as she eats too fast.'

Dr Gunaratna told the jury how patients at Richmond House would eat their main meals with staff, so were supervised. But the chicken she choked on in September had been eaten as a snack - a time when eating was not supervised.

Most Read

A statement read out from Billy Eaton, a bank healthcare worker, told of the incident in February. Mr Eaton said: 'I was sitting next to her when she was eating her food. She suddenly stood up and put her hands on the table, it was clear she was choking. I slapped her on the back but that did not work.

'I recall her face was changing colour. Following an abdominal thrust I dislodged a piece of broccoli from her mouth.'

He added: 'I would frequently have to tell her to slow down.'

But the jury also heard from healthcare worker Emma Dukes, who called 999 during the September incident. She said Miss Barrett had been offered a chicken thigh which another patient had brought back from a trip out. But she added: 'I was not made aware of any choking incidents.'

Other staff said they had been made aware, but there had not been any changes as the February occurrence had been 'well managed'. The inquest continues.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus