Karate teacher died after falls at Whittington Hospital

The daughter of a retired martial arts teacher who died after several falls at the Whittington Hospital has raised questions over his care.

Karate black belt George Stoker, 75, who lived in sheltered accommodation in Broadlands Road, Highgate, had three falls at the hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway, before his death on January 29 from a punctured lung caused by fractured ribs.

His daughter Melissa Stoker, 39, said she had several questions to ask the hospital about his care, including why it did not do more to protect him from falls during his month-long stay.

She also wanted to know why no one told her that her father, who suffered from dementia and osteoporosis, had two broken ribs.

“He was falling at home as well, he was very confused, but he was supposed to be safeguarded at the hospital,” Miss Stoker said after an inquest into his death at Poplar Coroner’s Court on Tuesday.

“If I had known he had two broken ribs, I wouldn’t have made him walk to the family room but they told me it was good for him to get some exercise,” she added.

“When they took him to the toilet, he walked with a Zimmer frame – how much pain he must have been in. They should have put him in a wheelchair.”

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Mr Stoker, who taught martial arts in Tottenham until a few years before his death, was admitted to hospital on Christmas Eve last year after falling at a bus stop in Highgate. A passing couple helped to get him to The Whittington, where he remained a patient until his death.

In a report by forensic pathologist Dr Simon Poole, it was found he had most likely broken his ribs before he was admitted to hospital. But Miss Stoker, an administrator, said an X-ray taken before his hospital stay did not reveal any fractured ribs.

Dr Poole gave the cause of his death as impaired breathing, caused by severe chronic lung disease and multiple rib fractures as a result of osteoporosis.

Coroner Dr William Dolman concluded that Mr Stoker’s death was accidental.

After the inquest, Miss Stoker paid tribute to her father.

“He gave me great strength and was an inspiration to me,” she said. “He never gave up on life, or on learning new things.”

Miss Stoker has called on the couple who helped her father to hospital to contact her as she would like to thank them.

A spokesman for The Whittington said: “We would like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Mr Stoker.

“The trust takes the care of its older patients extremely seriously and has a falls policy which details regular risk assessments and care plans for vulnerable patients.

“We will contact Mr Stoker’s family to answer any questions they may have.”