Court summons for care bosses as firms fails to attend inquest after woman’s death

South Tyneside District Hospital.
South Tyneside District Hospital.

A coroner is to issue a summons to a care company after they failed to turn up to an inquest into the death of one of a woman it looked after.

An inquest into the death of Winifred Florence Kirkup was adjourned after representatives from the company who cared for her at home failed to turn up.

South Tyneside Coroner Terence Carney

South Tyneside Coroner Terence Carney

South Tyneside Coroner Terence Carney was forced to postpone the hearing.

Ms Kirkup, of Tharsis Road, Hebburn, died at South Tyneside District Hospital on November 26, last year.

The 89-year-old had been poorly and bed-ridden for some time and was being cared by at home by company Care UK.

She suffered a leg fracture and passed away at the hospital in South Shields.

I personally am annoyed. So annoyed, I’m intent to use my powers to issue summons for the people at Care UK to attend.

Terence Carney, South Tyneside Coroner

Mr Carney summoned representatives from Care UK and the hospital, as well as Ms Kirkup’s GP and family members to the hearing at his office, in Hebburn.

But he was forced to adjourn it until a later date when no one from Care UK turned up.

The company said the home care part of the business has now been sold on and the staff are no longer their employees.

The company which is now in charge issued an apology, saying they were unaware of the inquest.

Mr Carney said: “My office contacted Care UK and were told that the witness, who was the principal carer for Winifred, was on the sick.

“When asked if someone else could attend in her place, we were told that it was too short notice and we were offered no apology.

“I do not think we can do justice to this inquest and put in context the facts without someone from Care UK, because they’re the people, along with her GP, who were caring for Winifred in the community.

“The doctors at the hospital took over her care from November 18 and their involvement is a short but important one.

“I personally am annoyed. So annoyed, I’m intent to use my powers to issue summons for the people at Care UK to attend.”

He added: “Going ahead without them would almost be as if you go to the end of a novel and read the conclusion without knowing that which has gone on before.

“We are not doing justice to this case without someone from Care UK. It’s all very well me having the notes, but without someone to explain the context in which this matter has been managed and this woman has been managed, I’m sorry, but I’m of a view that I cannot proceed without someone from Care UK here.

“I’m going to adjourn this to a further date and I do apologise again that this has happened.

“You can be assured that I will ensure through powers that I have that Care UK are here next time.”

Care UK said they could not comment because the home care part of the company was sold on in June and the staff are no longer their employees.

Alan Long, executive director for Mears, which now owns the company, said: “Mears acquired Care UK’s domiciliary care business 12 weeks ago – the business continues to operate as an independent subsidiary.

“Care UK had not informed us of this case which dates back to November 2014 and we are investigating.

“We would like to offer a full apology to the Coroner’s Court and we are putting in place processes to make sure that this does not happen again.”