MYSTERY surrounds how a great-grandmother came to fall from her bed at a Hampshire community hospital which led to her death just weeks later.

An inquest heard how Eileen Sims fell just hours after being admitted to Lymington New Forest Hospital – even though safety rails were up on the side of her bed.

The 89-year-old was found on the floor by a radiologist but nobody at the Wellworthy Road hospital – which had few staff and a high intake of patients that day – had witnessed her fall, the hearing was told.

The inquest heard how Mrs Sims had suffered a serious head injury which caused her death but exactly how she came by it remains unknown.

Today as hospital bosses apologised, having been criticised for a series of “failings”, Mrs Sims’ family called for a more thorough investigation into what went on.

The inquest heard how she had been admitted to the hospital by her GP who had concerns about her deteriorating health and questioned if she had suffered a stroke.

On arrival at the hospital on February 25, the pensioner was placed in a side room on the medical assessment ward where the night sister saw her sitting up in bed eating food. But five minutes later a radiologist found her lying on the floor and suffering fits.

Mrs Sims, of Salisbury Road, Totton, was taken to Southampton General Hospital where she died on March 17, suffering pneumonia combined with coronary respiratory disease and a spinal condition.

James Nicoll, who carried out a post-mortem examination, said he was unable to ascertain whether the wounds to her head were the result of a fall due to a heart attack, or if she had fallen because of the head injury.

Speaking at the inquest, Eileen’s granddaughter Caryn Symons said: “Her family has asked for a full and complete explanation of how she received her injuries. To date Lymington Hospital has failed to provide a detailed investigation.”

Ms Symons added: “To say that she had an un-witnessed fall is completely inadequate.”

Son-in-law Geoff Marshall added: “There are so many gaps in the story we have been given that we believe there may have been an element that’s not been reported.”

Determining that Mrs Sims died from an accidental fall, deputy Southampton coroner Gordon Denson said the family “will never have the answers they require”.

He said: “I have to accept on the evidence given that there were many and varied failings on behalf of the hospital and these have been acted upon. These didn’t cross the legal threshold of the lack of care on behalf of those treating Mrs Sims.”

  • HEALTH chiefs today admitted there were many lessons they could learn from Mrs Sims’ “tragic accident” as they apologised to her family.

A spokesman from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust said improvements included training staff in preventing falls, providing more information about the use of bed rails for patients, staff and families, and improving the way notes are kept.

The spokesman added: “We also found that, in this case, our communication with Eileen’s family should have been better.

“We apologise for any uncertainty this has caused, and would welcome the opportunity to meet with them again if this would help in any way.”