A FAMILY say they have been left with unanswered questions following an inquest into a mother’s death.
Fiona Comlay, 56, a former member of North Havant Residents’ Association, died after she had been suffering from a flu-like illness and an ear infection.
An inquest in Portsmouth found she had died from pneumonia that was later found in one of her lungs.
But her husband Bob, of New Lane, Havant, has spoken of his concerns about the GP out-of-hours service and the lack of toxicology tests following her death to find out if she had taken an accidental overdose.
The inquest heard that Mrs Comlay was bedridden on January 3 and was feeling very unwell.
Her son Daniel, who was looking after his mum as Mr Comlay was away, offered to take her to hospital, but she did not want to go.
Her son called the out-of-hours doctor at 6pm.
But the inquest was told a doctor arrived more than 12 hours later – at 6.15am the next day – and left a note stating there was no answer at the door. Mrs Comlay was discovered dead by her son at about 11am.
Her family are now considering whether to pursue their concerns further with legal action.
In a statement after the inquest, Mr Comlay said: ‘The unacceptable delay in response to the emergency call to the out-of-hours service is a matter of significant concern to the family.
‘We were surprised by the lack of understanding of the triage process for out-of-hours emergency calls and the lack of knowledge of the organisation providing that critical service.’
Mr Comlay also told the coroner that 59 items of medication – including strong painkillers – had been found in the cabinet by his wife’s bed.
However, this information came to light after the postmortem and no detailed blood tests were done.
Mr Comlay told the inquest: ‘I am concerned there may have been an accidental overdose which may have contributed to it.
‘But we will never know.’
Pathologist Barbara Borek said she had concluded that Mrs Comlay died of ‘community-acquired pneumonia’.
Dr Borek also said there were no signs of any adverse reactions from medication.
Coroner David Horsley said: ‘She did have a lot of medication that you found there.
‘It really is unfortunate that it was not made known to the police officer or myself [before the postmortem].
‘I have not got any evidence at all that happened.’
He recorded a verdict of natural causes as he said on the balance of probability Mrs Comlay died from pneumonia.
NHS trust considering if lessons can be learned
OFFICIALS who provide the out-of-hours doctor service have responded to the family’s concerns.
Dave Meehan, chief operating officer at Solent NHS Trust, said: ‘We are reviewing the coroner’s verdict and fully considering any learnings that can be made as a result of the unfortunate circumstance that led to the death of Fiona Comlay.
‘We will not be making any further public comments on this matter.’
Mrs Comlay was known to many in Havant for her campaigning against the noise and dust at Wessex Construction and Plant Hire, in New Lane, where there are now flats. Her husband Bob added: ‘Fiona had been an active member of the local community in Havant and will be missed by many.
‘As a family, we are slowly coming to terms with our loss and hope that the inquest verdict will now enable us all to move on with our lives.’