Peak Forest widow blames GPs for husband’s death

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A Peak Forest widow said she felt “let down” by the health service after her husband hanged himself, an inquest heard.

At the hearing in Chesterfield last Wednesday, assistant coroner James Anderson ruled that medical staff did not cause or contribute to John Skidmore’s death on March 31.

Patricia Skidmore told the court she felt failed by her late husband’s GPs practice Thornbrook Surgery, in Chapel-en-le-Frith.

The deceased, who suffered from ear disorder Ménière’s disease and a slow heart rate, had been awaiting an operation at Stepping Hill Hospital to remove a cyst from his testicle since November 2012.

But after surgery was delayed twice, Mr Skidmore, 68, became depressed with his state of health as he was in extreme pain and discomfort.

Mrs Skidmore told his doctor, Johan Hugo, that she was concerned about her husband’s mental health, but the GP said he believed the retired butcher’s anxiety was caused by the long wait for his procedure, which was scheduled for April 23.

On the morning of his death, Mrs Skidmore awoke to find her husband wasn’t in their Perrydale house, and went outside to search for him. She discovered him hanging in their barn.

The day before his death, Mrs Skidmore said she had phoned Thornbrook, as her husband was becoming more anxious and was not sleeping or eating. He was prescribed a higher dose off sedative diazepam.

Mrs Skidmore said: “I feel I’ve been robbed of a husband, my children of a father and my grandchildren of a loving grandfather. I told the doctor John was depressed. I fought for John every inch of the way and it got me nowhere. He was not safe; he should have been treated for his depression earlier.”

Mr Anderson said that as there was no clear evidence as to why Mr Skidmore’s operation was continually delayed, he was prepared to adjourn the inquest to gather more information from the hospital.

Mrs Skidmore declined the offer, saying: “I don’t think we’re going to achieve anything by prolonging the agony. The past 11 months, we’ve gone through hell together. I’ve got to live with this for the rest of my life; finding my husband in that position, it won’t go away.”

The coroner concluded that it was “unlikely” that surgery staff had contributed to Mr Skidmore’s death and that there were no suspicious circumstances. He added that as the intent and the exact circumstances remained unclear, he was not satisfied it was suicide, but instead recorded a narrative conclusion.