‘Keep families better informed’ urges coroner

A CORONER has highlighted the importance of keeping families informed after the son of an elderly Parkinson’s Disease sufferer voiced concerns about his father’s death.

George Smith died on May 20, 2013, at the age of 82 from complications arising from bronchopneumonia and Parkinson’s Disease.

Mr Smith lived in North Bersted with his son Wayne, his sole carer, who coroner Dr David Skipp said had ‘shouldered the burden of caring for a very sick man’.

A Parkinson’s specialist referred Mr Smith to St Wilfrid’s Hospice for respite and end of life hospice at home care.

After his death, Wayne approached a number of organisations, including the police, to try to find out why his father had died, believing an injection had been the cause. Nurses said the injection had been given to make Mr Smith more comfortable.

The inquiry heard the medication in the injection was commonly used in hospices and considered safe.

Concluding he had died by natural causes, the coroner said a lack of information led to the ‘mistrust of health care professionals’, and ‘the assumption they are hiding something’.

He added: “This has highlighted the importance of communication, of understanding the concerns of an individual and answering these. I can recognise the anger and frustration felt by Wayne Smith.”

Wendy Kennish is a social worker for West Sussex County Council’s adult services team. She undertook a safeguarding investigation following Mr Smith’s death, after an alert from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) about alleged abuse. The investigation found there were no patients at risk.