Family of disabled St Annes woman who died suddenly will take legal fight to Supreme Court

Jackie MaguireJackie Maguire
Jackie Maguire
The mother of a vulnerable disabled woman who died suddenly was 'bitterly disappointed' after her bid to challenge her daughter's inquest verdict was dismissed by the court.

Muriel Maguire's daughter Jackie Maguire, who had Down's Syndrome, died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on February 22 2017 after suffering an ulcer that pierced the wall of her stomach.

The vulnerable 52-year-old, who lived at the United Response Care Home in St Annes, had been ill for a week and a half and suffered a suspected seizure the day before her death.

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An inquest at Blackpool Town Hall in July 2018 handed down a conclusion of natural causes.

In February last year her family was given permission to challenge the verdict in the High Court - but their application was dismissed.

Now they have been dealt a further blow, as the decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal last week - ruling that a legal obligation to investigate deaths in cases where the state may be responsible did not apply in this case.

Muriel Maguire, 82, said she was "bitterly disappointed" the court found that a section of the European Convention of Human Rights did not mean the inquest jury should have been able to examine the circumstances that led to her daughter's death.

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She added: "Jackie did not get access to the emergency medical treatment that she so desperately needed, resulting in her death at only 52. I miss her terribly.

"I am still struggling to come to terms with the awful way that she died and the fact that she was let down by so many people with responsibilities for her care. I am certain that if the jury at Jackie’s inquest had been allowed to comment on the wider circumstances surrounding her death, they would have been critical of the care she received and made findings that fully reflected what happened to her."

On February 21, 2017, care home staff contacted the Clifton Medical Practice on Durham Road to arrange a home visit for Jackie, but the doctor they spoke to declined to attend.

An ambulance was called later that night, but Jackie became distressed and would not co-operate with paramedics, and was allowed to remain at the care home.

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Her family says she did not have the mental capacity to make such an important decision for herself.

Mrs Maguire said: "I fear that other families like mine, whose loved ones are vulnerable and do not have the mental capacity to act in their own best interests, will now find it more difficult to obtain justice and accountability following their death.

"I intend to continue my fight for justice for Jackie and seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court."

Bindmans, a law firm representing the family, said the decision by the Court of Appeal means that the medical care of vulnerable adults in care homes will not receive the same level of scrutiny as those in psychiatric hospitals or other institutional settings.

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Anna Thwaites, solicitor for Muriel Maguire, said the court had the chance to "remedy" the fact the inquests had not taken into account alleged "missed opportunities" to get Jackie medical help sooner.

She said: "The court’s judgment was based solely on the facts as they emerged at Jackie’s inquest, but this judgment is likely to have a wider impact on how coroners investigate cases in the future where issues surrounding medical care arise.

"I am concerned that it will be harder for families to hold the state to account, and for lessons to be learnt to help protect the most vulnerable in society."