Inquest: Family’s safety bid after stairlift death

After initial treatment, Winifred Veal (68) contracted pneumonia and was taken to Peterborough City Hospital where she died in March 2011.
After initial treatment, Winifred Veal (68) contracted pneumonia and was taken to Peterborough City Hospital where she died in March 2011.
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The family of a Peterborough pensioner who died after being paralysed when she tumbled down stairs after her stairlift broke, say lessons must be learned from the tragedy.

Winifred Veal (68), known as Ann, suffered a serious spinal injury and was rendered paraplegic after the incident at her home in Wellington Street, Eastgate, in April 2010.

After initial treatment, she contracted pneumonia and was taken to Peterborough City Hospital where she died in March 2011.

A two-day inquest into her death revealed last week that her Meditek Sika 140 stair lift failed when bolts connecting the seat to its mechanism sheared causing it to break apart and she plunged to the bottom of the stairs.

Coroner Mr David Heming said he would write a report recommending action is taken to alter the devices to improve safety.

It was revealed that since 2006 manufacturers Meditek have received eight reported similar incidents, resulting in one other death.

Recording a narrative verdict, Mr Heming criticised the design and the use of washers on the device, and also highlighted issues with servicing because vital safety updates had not been received.

Speaking after the inquest, Winfired Veal’s daughter Sharon Veal-Gray, (44), from Peterborough, said: “We were devastated at my mum’s death, she was always so caring and kind and did not deserve such pain and suffering.

“We never thought that a device fitted to help her around the home would cause such serious injuries and ultimately her death.

“We just hope that Meditek and others involved in the production and servicing of this type of stair lift will take note and make the necessary improvements so that others don’t suffer in future.

“We also hope that if anyone hearing our story has a loved one with one of the same models of stair lift installed in their home, they will immediately have it checked to ensure it is safe.”

Philip Rice, managing director of Meditek, said the firm had found no faults with the model, which is no longer produced, and had issued warnings about the incidents.