Inquest into death of 93 year old Irene Sokolof - Coroner ‘uneasy’ at pensioner’s death

Published: 13 October 2011

THE Royal Free Hospital and Camden Council made “a mockery” of attempts to protect the borough’s most vulnerable adults from harm in the case of a 93-year-old who died from pneumonia,a coroner has warned.

Irene Sokolof, who had been living at the Ingestre Road elderly persons’ home in Kentish Town, died in April.

At an inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Monday, coroner Gail Elliman said she felt “uneasy” about the communication  between the Hampstead hospital and council teams as they investigated how the elderly woman had sustained serious bed sores before her death.

Ms Sokolof had been admitted to hospital with a urinary infection.

Although the Royal Free flagged up the problem of the sores by issuing a “safeguarding alert” – a check to see whether she was being properly cared for at the home – Ms Elliman said it was possible they had worsened while she was a patient on the hospital’s wards.

She said: “At the end of this inquest I am left feeling uneasy. I am satisfied that Miss Sokolof died of natural causes but I am still left with a number of questions that leave me uneasy.

“The concerns that I have got are with the way the safeguarding alert has been used in this case – there seems to be some effort by the Royal Free to place blame where the blame clearly does not lie.”

Describing the application of the safe-guarding alert as an “administrative mess”, the coroner added: “This has made a mockery of the process of safeguarding vulnerable adults and it has certainly not been a relevant or useful process in the case of Miss Sokolof.

“There has been an utter lack of any bureaucratic or administrative system to deal with this situation.”

Ms Elliman ruled that Miss Sokolof died of sceptic shock caused by pneumonia with a contributing factor of dementia.


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