Brighton Coroner Warns Cleaning Fluid Death Could Have Been Deliberate

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A stroke patient in a Brighton hospital is having their death treated as suspicious. Joan Blaber, 85, died after ingesting Flash cleaning fluid while at Royal Sussex County Hospital last year.

Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley, speaking at a pre-inquest review, spoke of the lack of certainty shrouding the event: “We can’t rule out it was done deliberately.”

Hamilton-Deeley stated that the disturbing situation was a tense one: “And that leaves me in a very anxious state.”

However, alternative possibilities have also been suggested. The coroner has also said that Blaber, as a result of her medication, could have confusedly drunk the fluid.

Regardless of the exact nature of the death, many worrying signs were reported by the Care Quality Commission. In May, they critiqued Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust for their inability to keep cleaning chemicals safely.

A visit to Royal Sussex County Hospital a month after Blaber’s death saw several worrying revelations. There were unattended cleaning trolleys carrying hazardous chemicals, unlocked utility rooms and kitchens storing chemicals, and staff were unclear as to their duties.

The trust has said that they have since taken “significant steps” in their safety regulations.

A full inquest into Blaber’s death will be carried out in the autumn.

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