Mum's death sparks call for changes to paramedics training
BOLTON’S coroner has called for Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to change the way paramedics are trained nationally following an inquest into the death of a mother.
Jennifer Leeming will present a report to Jeremy Hunt, as well as the head of the North West Ambulance Service, to suggest that paramedics are trained in control and restraint techniques.
It follows an inquest into the death of 31-year-old Caroline Pilkington, who died at the Royal Bolton Hospital on April 26 last year after accidentally overdosing on the beta blocker drug, propranolol.
Before her death, Ms Pilkington had been violently fitting at her home in Moss Bank Way and paramedics needed help from police officers to restrain so they could take her to hospital.
Ms Leeming made it clear that all parties had acted appropriately and that with the paramedics lack of training in restraint techniques, it was correct procedure that police, who were trained and had appropriate equipment, were called to help.
She also stressed that neither the restraining process, nor the extra time allowed for police officers to attend, contributed to the death of Ms Pilkington, with the pathologist confirming her cause of death was the fatal amount of propranolol in her body.
But Ms Leeming told the inquest: “It doesn’t sit comfortably with me that the police are called to deal with someone who is unwell — my issue is whether this should be a police service at all.
“I know that clinical staff in other areas can be trained to restrain and yet paramedics are not.”
The issue was highlighted by Ms Pilkington’s mother, Deborah Pilkington, who said: “I feel that paramedics should be trained in control and restraint, the police haven’t got the resources to go to everyone’s homes in these situations.
“I know this wouldn’t have made any difference to Caroline, she was going to die anyway because of the overdose, but in a different situation where someone has potentially had a head injury and is violently fitting, having to wait longer for police to arrive could make things much worse.”
The inquest heard that Ms Pilkington had a history with drugs and had used amphetamines, ecstasy and crack cocaine in her teenage years.
She stopped using illegal drugs and replaced them with prescription drugs, which her mother said she “used to excess”.
A year before her death, Ms Pilkington was diagnosed with epilepsy and was given medication. But she suffered severe side effects and relied on painkillers such as diazepam and propranolol to combat anxiety.
The inquest heard that on April 25, Ms Pilkington was at home with her partner, Gareth Roberts, and her two young children, when she had a violent fit.
After being restrained by police, she was taken to hospital where her condition deteriorated and she suffered a fatal cardio-respiratory arrest.
After recording her verdict of accidental death, Ms Leeming said: “Paramedics who attended had to call for police assistance to deal with a patient who is physically unwell — I believe these circumstances should be drawn to the attention of people who have the power to change them.
“Caroline has taught us what I think will be a valuable lesson, I am just very sorry that it has come through her death.”
Ged Blezard, director of Emergency Services for the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, added: "The Trust would like to express its sincere condolences to Ms Pilkington’s family for their very sad loss.
“We would like to thank the coroner for her handling of the case; we await her correspondence and will give due consideration to her recommendations."
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