THE body of a Southampton mum was not discovered for up to five days after she consumed fatal levels of painkillers and antidepressants.

Maria Harding was found dead in her home by a neighbour who became concerned by a strong smell.

Emergency services were called to the home, in Dunkirk Road, where Ms Harding was pronounced dead.

Pathologist Dr Norman Carr told Winchester Coroner’s Court that he thought Ms Harding, 47, had been dead for up to five days before she was found.

A toxicology report revealed she had fatal levels of a prescription painkiller in her blood, as well as fatal levels of two prescription antidepressants.

The inquest heard that Ms Harding was suffering from a range of conditions including depression and seizures, and that she had been admitted to hospital a number of times following overdoses.

Now, Ms Harding’s daughters have criticised the care their mother received following a report from the Southern Health Trust that admitted failures.

The report outlined a “lack of communication” between services, including the Southampton General Hospital, and alcohol and mental health teams, and that there was no care plan in place for her physical conditions and the associated risk of excess alcohol.

Daughter Jacqueline Sowerby said: “We feel the NHS has admitted in this report that they have failed her on several occasions.”

Ms Sowerby also told the inquest that on July 31 her mother called asking help as she was expressing suicidal thoughts and mental health carers had refused to help because she was drunk.

The Southern Health report stated that Ms Harding “took her own life”, although suicide was ruled out by the coroner.

Recording a conclusion of drug-related death, coroner Grahame Short said: “Although it is possible, I can’t be sure she intended to end her life.

"It seems it is right to rule out suicide.”

Responding to the inquest, a spokesman for Southern Health said: “We extend our deepest sympathies to Maria’s family as they continue to grieve.

“We have been in contact with Maria’s relatives and have acknowledged and apologised for those actions. We have agreed to review the findings of the initial internal investigation.”

A spokesman for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust added it was continually working with partners to "improve transitions".