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Inquest into death of 90-year-old WW2 veteran who played key role in creation of NHS

PUBLISHED: 18:17 06 December 2019 | UPDATED: 20:37 06 December 2019

The Coroners Court at Beacon House, White House Road, Ipswich Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

The Coroners Court at Beacon House, White House Road, Ipswich Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

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A 90-year-old war veteran who as a civil servant played an important role in the creation of the NHS died after twice falling from his bed at an Ipswich community hospital, an inquest has heard.

Ronald Alston died on February 25, 2015, after his health deteriorated following three falls in late 2014 and early 2015.

An inquest into his death, at Suffolk Coroners Court in Ipswich, heard Mr Alston had worked as a principal civil servant and had helped Nye Bevan in the creation of the NHS.

Mr Alston had suffered a fall at his home in Claydon on December 22, 2014, and had hip surgery at Ipswich Hospital the following day, the inquest heard.

He was transferred to Aldeburgh Community Hospital on January 7, 2015, where he received physiotherapy.

A week later, on January 15, 2015, he was transferred to the Bluebird Lodge Community Hospital in Ravenswood, Ipswich, as his wife Margaret was having to stay at a hotel in Aldeburgh to visit him daily and the move would bring him closer to home.

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On January 19 he suffered a fall from his bed at Bluebird Lodge but was not badly injured.

However, on February 3 he fell from his bed again, this time damaging the dynamic screw that had been put in his hip during the operation. When he was next assessed, doctors decided to treat him "conservatively" as he was too frail to undergo another operation.

He was sent home on February 18 where his health deteriorated.

He died on February 25, 2015.

During the inquest, Mr Alston's family raised concerns through solicitor Tim Deeming that the 90-year-old had not received sufficient risk assessment following his first fall at the community hospital, which at that time was operated by Serco, and that sufficient measures to protect him from falling again were not put in place.

They claim when they visited, the patients' call alarms were not working and that there was a 'constant noise of alarms'.

However, nursing staff at the community hospital told the inquest that was not the case, saying the alarms were working fine, and that Mr Alston had been put in a low bed and fitted with a touch sensitive pad to monitor whether he was trying to get out of bed or his chair to mitigate the risk of a fall.

Area coroner Jacqueline Devonish adjourned the hearing until December 18 when she will make her conclusion.

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