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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2007, 18:46 GMT
Patient did not die of starvation
Olive Nockels
Mrs Nockels was a former school matron
An elderly woman who died in hospital after spending four days without food died of natural causes, a coroner in Norfolk has ruled.

Olive Nockels, 91, was admitted to hospital in September 2003 after suffering a stroke and died in October.

The inquest heard that Mrs Nockels asked her family if she could have a cup of tea as she lay at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

But the inquest found Mrs Nockels did not die of dehydration or starvation.

The inquest, in Norwich, heard Mrs Nockels, of Holt, Norfolk, had been receiving fluids containing dextrose after being admitted to hospital.

But after she developed an oedema - a build-up of excess fluid in the body - and started to secrete rather than absorb fluid, doctors withheld treatment.

We are glad that our very real concerns about my mother's treatment have been raised and heard in public
Mrs Nockels's daughter Ivy West

Members of Mrs Nockels's family subsequently obtained a High Court injunction ordering the treatment to be reinstated.

But this was overturned after hospital consultant David Maisey expressed concerns about it to the judge.

The inquest heard that after being admitted to the hospital Mrs Nockels received 140 calories a day for 16 days, before treatment was withheld.

Mrs Nockels was receiving the fluids intravenously until her vein collapsed and she was then given fluids under her skin until she developed oedema.

Giving evidence, consultant geriatrician Brian Payne, who examined Mrs Nockels, said she seemed confused when he asked her simple questions.

Feeding tube

He said that when he broached the possibility of fitting a feeding tube she had not responded apart from telling him to stop or go away.

Laura Griffiths, solicitor for Mrs Nockels's daughter Ivy West, said in a statement: "We are glad that our very real concerns about my mother's treatment have been raised and heard in public.

"We hope this will give families of stroke victims the confidence to ask for adequate nutrition and hydration for those who have suffered a stroke."

During the inquest it emerged that two of Mrs Nockels' daughters shared the views of medical experts, but Mrs West and her son disagreed with their opinions.

Mr Armstrong said: "It is tragic there was a difference of view between the family. I do hope now that Olive will be allowed to rest in peace and I hope her family will be thankful for her long life."

Linda Frost, 52, one of Mrs Nockels' daughters, said she no longer spoke to the Wests and added: "I would like my mother to rest in peace."

Coroner William Armstrong recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

Family reaction to the inquest verdict

Elderly patient 'begged for tea'
08 Jan 07 |  Norfolk

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