A CORONER has criticised a hospital doctor for issuing a death certificate in the case of a former ceramics worker suspected of having being killed by industrial disease.
South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh blasted Burton’s Queen’s Hospital employee Dr T Lenarova during an inquest into the death of 90-year-old Francis Barrett, known as Ken, of Woodville Road, Hartshorne.
“The doctor should not have just issued the medical certificate without speaking to me,” the coroner told Mr Barrett’s son, Stephen, during the hearing at Burton Town Hall.
“If there’s a doubt about it (the cause of death), then it should be referred to me.”
Mr Barrett’s death was reported by the Mail after his wife, Nancy, 84, passed away while travelling to her husband’s funeral at Bretby Crematorium a fortnight later.
Weeks earlier, on August 9, Mr Barrett, who worked in the ceramics industry in Stoke-on-Trent and Woodville for almost 40 years, was admitted to Queen’s after his chest infection deteriorated.
He died a week later after an X-ray revealed his lungs were severely damaged and there was little that could be done to treat him.
The inquest heard Mr Barrett’s doctors suspected his lungs had been damaged by exposure to silica at work, a suggestion which stunned his family.
Consultant independent pathologist Dr Peter Acland conducted a post-mortem examination which found Mr Barrett died due to bronchopneumonia caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The specialist said tissue tests suggested silica’s contribution to Mr Barrett’s COPD was ‘not that great’ – although he admitted that X-rays indicated it was more instrumental.
Dr Acland said in his opinion the pensioner’s death was caused by numerous factors.
Stephen Barrett said his father smoked earlier in his life – another risk factor – but had given up decades ago.
Mr Haigh said on the balance of probability exposure to silica ‘made a significant contribution’ to Mr Barrett’s death and recorded a verdict of death by industrial disease.