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Coeliac UK calls for change following death of coeliac patient in hospital

A North Wales coroner has concluded there was a ‘gross failure’ in the case of a coeliac patient, who tragically died in Wrexham Maelor hospital.

Mrs Hazel Pearson, 79, had coeliac disease and a number of other medical conditions and died from aspiration pneumonia four days after being given Weetabix for breakfast while at the hospital.

Whilst her coeliac disease was noted on her admission records, there was no sign above her bed and staff were unaware of her dietary needs and as a result Mrs Pearson had been fed gluten containing food on multiple occasions.  

Tristan Humphreys, Head of Advocacy for Coeliac UK said: 

“We are deeply saddened and concerned by this verdict and our thoughts go out to Mrs Pearson’s loved ones at this very difficult time. Her death reflects a clear failure of care and it is patently unacceptable that this was allowed to happen. Coeliac disease is a serious autoimmune condition for which the only treatment is a medically prescribed gluten free diet. It is critical that people with coeliac disease can access the gluten free food they need to be healthy. This is all the more important when someone is unwell and, as in Mrs Pearson’s tragic case, unable to advocate for themselves. Wales has mandatory food standards which make very clear the level of care that should be provided yet these have not been met. As a charity, we are empowering patients, family members, carers and working with hospital caterers by providing advice and guidance to support safe provision of gluten free food. However, it’s high time the health service consistently delivered the care people with coeliac disease deserve.” 

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Source: Coeliac UK, 24 November 2023


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