Watchdog to call for inquiry into deaths at St Andrew’s Hospital

St Andrews Hospital, Billing Road, Northampton.
St Andrews Hospital, Billing Road, Northampton.

The health watchdog for Northamptonshire is to call for an independent inquiry 
into four deaths at St 
Andrew’s Hospital.

An inquest in July into the death of Bill Johnson heard solicitors believed that there may have been links between his death and that of three other patients on Grafton Ward. All of the patients died within seven months of each other while on anti-psychotic medication.

County coroner Anne Pember said this week she would not be re-opening the inquests after reviewing the first three deaths, and St Andrew’s has carried out its own investigation.

However Healthwatch Northamptonshire bosses have visited the hospital to talk about the deaths and it 
is understood the group is still not completely satisfied.

A source at Healthwatch told the Chron: “We have been in there recently for a chat about the four deaths.

“We are pretty sure Healthwatch will be recommending an independent investigation.

“I think it’s fair to say 
we are not completely satisfied. If there’s no common thread then fair enough, 
but we want to be assured of that.

“You’re talking about four deaths on the same ward in a relatively short period – it would be strange for us not to look into it.”

Healthwatch has the 
power to recommend the CQC investigate the deaths as one issue, rather than individual cases.

Assistant deputy coroner for Northamptonshire, Tom Osbourne, recorded a narrative verdict in Mr Johnson’s inquest. He had heard Mr Johnson died following severe constipation, a known side-effect of the anti-psychotic drug clozapine.

A spokesman for St Andrew’s said: “As a charity we fully support Healthwatch’s oversight on behalf of the people of Northampton.”