‘Proud royalist’ pensioner died after two falls, inquest hears

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A PATRIOTIC pensioner died at the DGH after falling twice – first in her home and then days later on a hospital ward.

Gwendoline Hennessey was 87 when she passed away on December 19 last year, having been admitted to the DGH 17 days earlier after tumbling over at her Roborough Close home.

An inquest into her death held on Thursday (May 31) heard her described as a proud royalist and patriot by her niece Susan Gilbert.

The pensioner’s GP, Dr Keith Barrow, revealed a history of heart problems which the coroner suggested could have caused the original fall.

Dr Jane Mercer, who carried out the postmortem on Mrs Hennessey, said she had uncovered evidence of two haemorrhages in her skull – one from each fall.

And a consultant rheumatologist from the DGH, Dr Andrew Pool, also raised the possibility that a stroke could have caused the first fall after evidence of one emerged during neurological observations.

Mrs Hennessey, whose husband Sidney had died in recent years, had discussed with doctors a potential brain operation after a hospital CT scan showed up the first of the two haemorrhages, but had opted against the risky procedure which would have seen surgeons drill into her skull to relieve pressure.

And despite the fact a CT scan was not ordered until a day after she first arrived at the DGH, coroner Alan Craze said he believed the delay made no difference to the eventual outcome.

Following the second fall on December 10, after which Mrs Hennessey was found on the floor near her hospital bed, her condition deteriorated steadily until she died a week later.

Recording a verdict of accidental death Mr Craze said, “It is usual to say that when someone falls on a ward that this should not happen, but why not? If someone falls outside WH Smith why not have a fall from time to time takes place in hospital?”

He added that he believe the second fall was the cause of death.