Pensioner died after choking

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An elderly woman with Alzheimer’s, dementia and diabetes died when her airway became blocked after Whiston Hospital nurses left her to eat on her own.

But an inquest at St Helens Town Hall heard that Mavis Bredel, 84, had previously only once required help with her eating during a lengthy hospital stay.

Mrs Bredel, who had been treated on Ward 5D following her admission last August, was found unresponsive at about 5.30pm on November 11 last year and subsequently pronounced dead.

Ward manager Jane Sharples told how Mrs Bredel had earlier been deemed fit for discharge from the hospital on September 2 but then remained at Whiston because of her challenging behaviour and because her care home no longer met her needs.

She said there was no evidence Mrs Bredel had previously struggled to swallow her food.

Mrs Sharples told how, on November 11, she had cut up a sausage for Mrs Bredel to eat before leaving her to eat her meal.

But when nurses checked on her at 5.30pm she was found in a collapsed state.

A post mortem, carried out by a pathologist independent of Whiston Hospital, found the medical cause of death as “airway obstruction due to food impaction” - citing Alzheimer’s disease as a contributory factor as it had caused Mrs Bredel’s gag reflex to be supressed.

Mrs Bredel’s daughter, Marcelle Smethurst, questioned why her mother had been left alone because “it was getting to the point where she couldn’t feed herself”.

She added that, as a result, her mother had suffered “the most horrific death”.

A consultant physician also told how Mrs Bredel’s blood sugar levels had fluctuated wildly throughout her hospital stay because she had continued to eat sugary foods - despite advice to the contrary.

Coroner Christopher Sumner recorded a verdict of “misadventure”.