A DEMENTIA patient whose death sparked a police investigation into a Burnley care home had a twisted colon, an inquest heard.

Burnley Coroner’s Court was told it was unlikely surgery would have been successful on 90-year-old Ethel Atkinson, who was a resident at the former Palatine Lodge care home, because of her age, and condition.

Two doctors had raised concerns regarding Mrs Atkinson’s dehydration in May and June 2012, the inquest, at Burnley Town Hall, was told.

She was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital for treatment, but never recovered and died the following day.

The inquest heard that Mrs Atkinson would become frustrated, aggressive and violent, because of her condition, but had a ‘lovely streak’.

A post-mortem examination by Home Office pathologist Dr Charles Wilson found that she had a ‘volvulus of her sigmoid colon’, which had become infected and caused blood poisoning.

Dr Wilson said that even if the condition had been diagnosed, “it was unlikely surgical intervention would have been successful given the age and general frailty” of Mrs Atkinson.

Earlier, the inquest heard that her GP, Dr Garcia Montero, had visited the pensioner on May 23 and found she was dehydrated. He recommended she should be given fluids, and monitored.

An ambulance had to be called for Mrs Atkinson after she was seen by an on-call GP, Dr Ant-onio Retimal, on June 3 and she was hospital-ised.

Dr Andreas Jostel, at the Royal Blackburn, believed she may have sepsis, or blood poisoning, and prescribed anti-biotics and fluids. But she died the next day.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, East Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor said that this was the correct conclusion when all other factors surrounding the death were ‘stripped away’.

Mr Taylor said he had taken the decision to cut short a three-day inq-uest into Mrs Atkinson’s death after consultat-ions with lawyers rep-resenting the home and Susan Riley, who had power of attorney over the 90-year-old’s affairs.

The police investig-ation into the death of the former machinist, who lived in Parkinson Street before Palatine Lodge, was wound down in August 2012.

Later, a Care Quality Commission investigat-ion into the premises did not find any faults. But the home subsequently closed, with the loss of a number of carers' posts.

Mrs Atkinson, whose third husband George died more than 20 years ago, had initially gone into the home while rec-overing from an oper-ation. She was renowned for singing Matt Monro songs to fellow residents.