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Family praised by Coroner for tenacity in seeking answers
16 Mar 2021

A West Midlands family today said they “hope some good” would come from the inquest into the death of their elderly relative more than three years after she passed away at a Dudley hospital.

Dorothy Dunn, 86, died at Russells Hall Hospital in July 2017 following unnecessary delays in her care which medical experts giving evidence confirmed had contributed to her death.
Supported by Midlands law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, the family had called for a full inquest into Mrs Dunn’s death which concluded today.
The firm’s Michael Portman-Hann said the family were grateful to the Coroner for recognising their concerns and investigating the sequence of events which led to Mrs Dunn’s death on 17 July 2017.
“Her family have so many questions and concerns about the care she received and this inquest has helped provide them with the answers they so desperately wanted and deserved.”
Mrs Dunn, of Sedgley, died after having been admitted to hospital due to swelling in her throat.
Black Country Coroner Zafar Siddique was told during the inquest opening that an emergency tracheostomy was performed after Mrs Dunn developed shortness of breath. She later suffered a cardiac arrest and died a week after she was admitted.
Giving his conclusions, the Coroner observed that there was a delay in finding equipment, including a basic scalpel to perform the emergency procedure which would have helped Mrs Dunn to breathe. The Coroner also concluded that, although he was unable to make a determination of neglect in this particular case, it was a borderline decision.
Mr Portman-Hann said: “There was no formal investigation at the time of Mrs Dunn’s death and her family were not told about the circumstances until they requested Mrs Dunn’s medical records over 18 months later.
“The Coroner commended Mrs Dunn’s family for their tenacity and perseverance in seeking the proper answers to the questions they have had for so long.”
Mrs Dunn’s Granddaughter, Sarah George, added: “Something about the care provided never really felt right to us, which is why we requested the medical records and looked into it further.
“We are so glad that we did, and didn’t just ignore our gut instinct, as had we not pushed for answers we would never have known about the issues which occurred in the treatment provided.

“We hope that some good can come out of this and that the Trust recognise it is important that open investigations are performed and families made aware of potential issues in treatment so that further distress can be avoided. We are also pleased that the Coroner has raised his concerns about the reporting of potentially serious incidents to him in the future, and asked for the Chief Executive of the Hospital Trust to confirm that this is being done in writing.”

FBC Manby Bowdler is one of the Midlands leading law firms with offices in Wolverhampton, across Shropshire and Redditch. It regularly features in national guides to the best legal practices in the country.

Meet Michael Portman-Hann