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Adjourned inquest into hospital death of Enfield woman to commence on 13 February

Posted: 10/02/2017

The adjourned inquest into the death of Koula Christou, a 53 year old woman from Enfield who died last January, will be heard on Monday 13 February at Barnet Coroner’s Court. It is listed for a duration of two weeks before HM Senior Coroner for North London.

At a pre-inquest review hearing in September, HM Senior Coroner requested an investigation into the provision of interventional radiology services at Barnet Hospital, applying the enhanced investigative duty under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Koula Christou, who was a paraplegic, died on 27 January 2016 after spending nearly four weeks at Barnet Hospital following surgery for a pressure sore. She passed away following gastrointestinal bleeding and cardiac arrest. She suffered a gastrointestinal bleed on 26 January but did not undergo an endoscopy until 3:45pm on 27 January. Following the endoscopy medical staff recommended that Ms Christou undergo an angiogram under the interventional radiology team.

However, there was no provision for such services at Barnet Hospital after 5pm, so a decision was made to transfer Ms Christou to another hospital. Ms Christou suffered a cardiac arrest later in the evening prior to transfer. She was taken to theatre where it was noted that she was actively bleeding. Unfortunately, Ms Christou’s life could not be saved.

HM Senior Coroner will also investigate whether the surgical team at Barnet Hospital could have been involved earlier in the day on 27 January to perform life-saving treatment.

The inquest was listed for 31 October 2016 for four days but was adjourned on 1 November due to the trust’s failure to disclose pertinent documents. The family have since received a large number of documents from the trust including witness statements and emails that suggest the surgeons themselves took the view they should have been contacted and involved in Koula’s care sooner which may have changed the outcome.

Despite HM Senior Coroner stating that all disclosure from the trust should be received within 14 days of the adjourned inquest, the family have continued to receive disclosure since November with some documents only being made available in the week prior to the new date. HM Senior Coroner has indicated that he will hear submissions at the conclusion of the re-listed inquest as to whether imposing criminal sanctions on the trust under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 is appropriate.

The family are disappointed that the trust is also attempting to deviate from important medical issues surrounding Koula’s death to discuss a legal contractual dispute between the ambulance service and the trust.

Penningtons Manches is instructed for the Ms Christou’s family. The family will also be represented by Edward Ramsay of 12 Kings Bench Walk Chambers, London.

Emily Palmer, solicitor at Penningtons Manches acting on behalf of the family, said: “The delays in this case have added angst to an already deeply distressing situation for the family. It is hoped that the inquest can now proceed and provide answers to the questions the family have regarding Koula’s sad death and help them deal with their loss.”

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