Frail pensioner dies of hypothermia as she ‘couldn’t afford heating’

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A frail pensioner died of hypothermia after telling her GP she couldn’t afford to turn on the heating in her home, an inquest has heard.

Barbara Bolton, 87, was admitted to Fairfield Hospital on December 11 last year with the condition, as well as a chest infection.

An inquest opening at Rochdale Coroner’s Court heard she was admitted to hospital by her GP. She had disclosed to her doctor she had not been able to afford heating at her home in Bury, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Ms Bolton tragically died on January 5 at Fairfield Hospital after a decision was made with her family to place her on end-of-life care. The inquest heard she was a mother and a widow and had previously worked as a pharmacy assistant.

Police Coroner’s Officer, Jane Scullion, told the hearing: “Barbara was admitted to hospital on December 11, 2022, with hypothermia, and a chest infection. She was referred to hospital by her GP who said this was related to her not being able to afford her heating.

“During that time she continued to deteriorate. After a discussion, she was placed on end-of-life care and passed away.”

Assistant Coroner for Manchester North, Julie Mitchell, adjourned the inquest and requested statements from her doctor and asked for a medical cause of death to be provided.

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“Her death was particularly accelerated by hypothermia and there is a possibility of self-neglect due to the lack of heating so her death has been referred to the coroner,” she said.

Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures and requires immediate medical intervention. Causes include not wearing warm clothes in winter, falling into cold water and living in a cold house.

Following the inquest, Ms Bolton’s son Mark, told the M.E.N: “We were in contact with her every day and saw her and spoke to her. We have to deal with the sad loss now and it’s very hard for me and my family.”

Neighbours of Ms Bolton, who live on Dawson Street in Bury, said they were shocked and saddened to hear of Ms Bolton’s death, and said she had lived there for several decades. One man said: “I think Barbara must have lived here about 50 years. I know that she was working at the chemist in Tesco until fairly recently. It’s so sad.”

Another woman said: “I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks. It’s so sad. She was a really nice woman and lived here for years but more recently kept herself to herself.”

A full inquest, which will explore the circumstances which led to Ms Bolton’s death, will take place at Rochdale Coroner’s Court later this year.

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