Pensioner's horrific death leads to call for social services overhaul
By Ed Thomas AN OVERHAUL of Westminster s social services is needed to avoid another gruesome death like one in Maida Vale last year, a coroner has said. Donald Naylor, 69, was found alone and seriously ill in a block of flats run by the St Mungo s charit
By Ed Thomas
AN OVERHAUL of Westminster's social services is needed to avoid another gruesome death like one in Maida Vale last year, a coroner has said.
Donald Naylor, 69, was found alone and seriously ill in a block of flats run by the St Mungo's charity in Shirland Road.
He was rushed to hospital where doctors found maggots burrowing into the pungent ulcers covering his legs. The pensioner later died from malnutrition and infection.
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When the inquest was opened at Christmas time, Westminster coroner Dr Paul Knapman said he was "unimpressed" with the situation and demanded answers from the social services team which had apparently neglected Mr Naylor.
This week, at the conclusion of the inquest, senior social services officials admitted blunders had taken place and announced an action plan for improvements.
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"It is very regrettable that anyone should die in these circumstances," said William Davis, Westminster's service manager for older and disabled people.
"We want to make sure any improvements that can be made to ensure this doesn't happen again, are made."
Mr Davis said his department has drawn up a six-point list of recommendations with emphasis on better communication between social services and other partners such as St Mungo's.
The inquest heard how an emergency fax was sent by care providers to the council at 5.50pm on Friday October 20, when Mr Naylor's horrific state was noticed in his Maida Vale flat. However, the fax was not picked up until the following Monday morning.
A GP appointment was arranged for the Tuesday but Mr Naylor couldn't made it. On the Wednesday a meals-on-wheels worker sent another fax to social services after seeing Mr Naylor "in a bad way and in need of urgent attention."
Mr Naylor was not seen by a medical professional until Tuesday October 31 when he was rushed to St Mary's Hospital, by which time it was too late.
"The bottom line is that in the 11 days from the first fax being sent to when Mr Naylor went into hospital, no-one in your department had been to see him," said the coroner. Mr Davis agreed.
The coroner added: "We heard from the doctor at the hospital and he gave us a graphic account of his condition and treatment.
"He had terrible ulcers on his legs which ultimately led to his death. When he came in, his legs and shins were infected with maggots. This came as a surprise to the hospital."
The coroner said the situation was aggravated by neglect, but admitted a proportion of that neglect was down to Mr Naylor himself.
After welcoming the news that social services guidelines are being tightened up, he recorded that the death was from natural causes aggravated by neglect. Mr Naylor died of septicaemia, cellulitis, chronic leg ulcers, malnutrition and renal failure.