South Scotland

Borders General Hospital death fall cause 'unknown'

Fiona Barber Image copyright Borders Press Agency
Image caption Fiona Barber died in 2009; her husband Joe died the following year

An inquiry has found the cause of an accident in which a woman died after falling from an ambulance at Borders General Hospital is "unknown".

The hearing into the death of Fiona Barber, 71, of Lindean, was held at Selkirk Sheriff Court.

Sheriff James Farrell recommended patient transport procedures and guidance should be tightened up.

Mrs Barber's family have criticised a decision not to keep CCTV recordings at the scene of the incident.

The incident happened when the pensioner was attending a routine appointment at Borders General Hospital just before Christmas 2009.

A fatal accident inquiry last month heard she refused to use the hydraulic lift on the ambulance.

She slipped coming down the steps, fell, and struck her head on the ground - dying two weeks later.

'Deeply unsatisfactory'

In his ruling Sheriff Farrell recommended patient transport procedures and guidance should be tightened up - for both hospital and ambulance staff.

He also suggested the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) apologise to Mrs Barber's family.

That has been welcomed by her son Jonathan - who said no family should have to wait five years for an apology.

However, he said the determination that the cause of his mother's accident was "unknown" was "deeply unsatisfactory".

He believes it could have been avoided had CCTV recordings of the scene been retained by NHS Borders or the SAS.

Mr Barber is calling for a change of policy to ensure "such vital evidence" is kept in future.

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