Anita Woodford was being rolled down the back of the ramp in a wheelchair outside the 1,200-bed Norfolk and Norwich Hospital while the vehicle was stationary when the chair tipped over. A woman has died after hitting her head falling out of the back of an ambulance, according to an investigation.
A three-day investigation heard the wrong wheelchair was used when she arrived for a non-urgent dialysis appointment in November 2021. She hit her head after the wheelchair was tipped over and died two weeks later. In CCTV footage shown at the inquest, Ms. Woodford, from Brisley, Norfolk, was pushed in her chair down the ramp when she hit the bottom and suddenly jerked backward.
Anita Woodford Age
Anita Woodford was 66 years old.
Anita Woodford Died after hitting her head
The ‘hospital porter’ wheelchair was driven by ambulance care attendant Tracey Leigh, who was subsequently suspended and later fired. Ms. Leigh was visibly upset as she gave evidence at the Norfolk Coroner’s Court inquest in Norwich.
Speaking via video link, Ms. Leigh said: “I was going down the ramp and, I don’t know what happened, but when I got to the bottom, the wheelchair tipped back.” All I know is that it tipped over and I couldn’t hold it. I’ve done that job a hundred times before and nothing like it has ever happened.
She admitted that due to the weight and size of the doorman’s wheelchair, she would not have been able to prevent him from tipping backward. The court heard how Ms. Leigh had received training on the best practices for loading and unloading patients.
ERS Medical, the company providing the patient transport service, had alerted staff to the risk of using porter wheelchairs instead of the ones provided in their vehicles. Ms. Leigh added: ‘I never thought in a million years this would happen. We all used the hospital wheelchairs to transport patients. I hadn’t done anything different that day than I had done any other day.’
She also claimed that ERS medical management knew that her staff used wheelchairs to unload patients from ambulances at the hospital. She was fired after an internal investigation.
Ms Woodford’s husband of 45 years, Graham Woodford, attended the three-day inquest. In a statement, he said the couple had traveled the world together and that she was a devoted dog owner. He continued: ‘She was loving, kind, caring, considerate and conscientious. She will always be loved and remembered and never forgotten.’
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He added that, over the years, she had suffered from depression after bereavement, a key trigger for her poor mental health. As a result, she gradually turned to alcohol but “didn’t accept that she had a problem.”
In 2019, she retired from her job at Elmham Surgery, near Dereham, where she was employed for 25 years. Following a visit to her GP in August 2021, she was admitted to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital with various alcohol-related health problems, including severe liver disease. She was discharged to her home on November 12 of that year.
On the morning of November 15, Ms. Leigh and a colleague of hers had picked her up for a hospital appointment.
Following the incident, Ms Woodford sustained a head and neck injury and underwent a head CT scan before being kept in the hospital overnight. Eight days earlier, on November 7, she underwent the same test which showed a small amount of bleeding in her brain.
After the head injury, the CT scan results showed additional bleeding. Her condition deteriorated and she died at her home two weeks later.
Dr Curtis Offiah, a consultant to the Royal London Hospital, said at the inquest that Ms. Woodford was considered to have “a number of high-risk factors” that made her susceptible to bleeding.
The investigation continues.
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