Stamford inquests, last of their kind

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Two inquests held into the deaths of two elderly Stamford residents who suffered from dementia and died of natural causes are among the last of their kind following a change in law.

Stella Rita Burrows, 84, and Thomas Holmes, 95, were subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), which limited what they can do or where they can go for their own safety,

Up until April 2 this year, coroners were required to hold an inquest for anyone who dies while subject to the DoLS as they are considered as having died in state detention under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

But after complaints from families who said ‘they could not progress with their grieving and arrange a funeral’ because of the orders, the Policing and Crime Bill has been amended so that it removes the statutory duty of coroners to hold an inquest.

Mrs Burrows, a resident of the Whitefriars care home in Stamford, died on Valentine’s Day while Mr Holmes, who was also a resident at the same home, died on February 20 - both their inquests were heard at Boston Coroners Court on Wednesday.

Mrs Burrows’ inquest heard that Dr Anne Banner was called to the home on the day of her death following reports that she was 
unwell.

Mrs Banner said in a statement read to the court that Mrs Burrows, who had a number of other health problems, including heart disease, died later that 
day.

In a statement, Mrs Burrows’ daughter, Genette Megan Wright, said she “had no concerns about the level of care given to her mum” at the home.

The other inquest heard that Mr Holmes, who had a history of dementia and survived bowel cancer, was admitted to Peterborough City Hospital with pneumonia and a chest infection on January 20 and was released on February 
7.

His GP Rebecca Watt said in a statement read to the court that he suffered with chest problems following his release and died of natural causes.

Coroner Murray Spittal said as he closed the inquest: “I am happy to accept the GP’s opinion of natural cause of death.”