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Mencap staff tried to save woman who choked on food, inquest hears

Accidental death of 50-year-old with Down's syndrome

Chris Ord


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A CORONER has ruled the death of a woman at West Berkshire Mencap’s Newbury offices last December was accidental.

An inquest heard how 50-year-old Linda Mary Wilmore, a user of the charity’s New Slater Centre in Bone Lane, died after choking on her food.

Miss Wilmore, who had learning difficulties, was found dead in a toilet cubicle by staff at the centre on Monday, December 19.

On discovering her body, care workers desperately performed CPR after forcing their way into the cubicle.

The inquest heard how paramedics arrived shortly after and continued to perform CPR for a further 20 minutes before Miss Wilmore was pronounced dead at 1.20pm.

A large piece of bread was recovered from Miss Wilmore’s throat, according to a report from the ambulance crew.

Staff said she had not given any sign she was having difficulty with her food before she left the room to go to the toilet.

A post mortem examination revealed no suspicious injuries.

In his report, pathologist Dr Ghataura said: “It is likely that this lady has choked on her food which has somehow obstructed her upper airway, leading to hypoxic cardiac arrest.

“This may be due to poor chewing given her diagnosis of Down’s syndrome.”

The inquest had previously heard how Miss Wilmore was considered to be independent and generally healthy by staff at Pelham House – a supported living service in London Road.

The coroner noted a risk assessment in March 2016 that said Miss Wilmore “sometimes needs reminding to slow down when eating as she sometimes chokes”.

This observation was confirmed by her brother, Colin Wilmore, who was also present at the inquest.

However, service manager at Pelham House, Rachel Cullingham, said: “When Linda moved in we were given historic information by the previous provider, but all the time she’s been there we’ve never had any record of instances of that happening.”

She added: “She had been with us since 2010 so we got to know her very well and her routine.”

Concluding the inquest, assistant coroner for Berkshire, Emma Jones, said: “It probably won’t come as a surprise that I will record a conclusion of accidental death.”

Offering words of reassurance to Mr Wilmore, Miss Jones added: “If it’s any consolation to you, having heard from members of staff here today it seems everything was done that could possibly have been done for your sister.

“She was well cared for at Pelham House, which hopefully puts your mind at rest.”

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