MW Solicitors Civil Litigator Fiona McNelis was involved in an Article 2 inquest at the end of March 2019 where the Coroner investigated the circumstances of the death of our clients’ sister who died in a mental health hospital of malnutrition as a consequence of a gastric bypass aged 45.

The case

Fiona McNelis
Fiona McNelis
Senior Associate Solicitor & Head of Public Law, Civil

The client's sister underwent a gastric bypass operation in March 2010 (against the wishes of her family) which resulted in complications as she suffered from malabsorption.  This lead to problems ensuring that she had the right supplements and nutrients and she had to be fed through a PEG tube at stages.  There were long periods when she was not eating and in the family’s view no proper care or joined up care plan was put in place to treat her.   

From approximately the summer of 2016, she started to deteriorate badly resulting in gradual organ failure and then her sad and untimely death on 31st July 2017.

It was a very sad inquest and one which was hard fought and very traumatic for the family.  A number of difficulties needed to be resolved.

  • Funding the case was an issue. 

  • Part of the matter was funded by CrowdJustice.

  • The clients approached MW approximately one week before the day listed for the inquest.  It was listed for ½ a day in spite of the fact that there were 4 NHS Trusts involved in providing care. 

  • The Coroner delayed in ruling that this was an Article 2 inquest and then tried to renege on this at a later date.

The outcome

We were very fortunate to have an excellent jury who were fully engaged and asked lots of questions throughout the inquest.

By the end of the inquest, all parties agreed that one Trust in particular were guilty of at least neglect in this case and in our view, this was a case of gross neglect and we asked the Coroner to put this verdict to the jury and to consider whether any criminal sanctions should follow.  The Coroner refused to do so and offered no reason for this.

If this verdict had been put to the jury, we believe that they would have returned this verdict.

In the end, the jury went as far as they could within the directions given to them by the Coroner and found that the cause of death was

“inadequate provision and intake of sufficient nourishment and nutrition, furthered by an inability to appropriate the necessary medical intervention whilst at the Bracton Centre.”

What Happens Next?

The consequence of this means that there may be a civil claim against the Trust concerned and this is on hold pending the outcome of the judicial review. 

MW Solicitors also applied for an Attorney General Fiat which is also on hold now that the Court have granted permission on the papers.

The Administrative Court will now list this matter for a hearing of the substantive Judicial Review application.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including bereaved families who deserve to know the circumstances of their loved ones death.

If you have a family member or loved one who died whilst in the care of NHS Mental Health facilities and wish to talk to one of our specialist Lawyers, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback at your convenience.






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