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Lavenham woman, 83, died after treatment overseas following cruise ship episode

A coroner has said the treatment an 83-year-old Lavenham woman received overseas after becoming ill on a cruise ship contributed to her death.

Marguerite Hayward had been on an £8,500 'holiday of a lifetime' when she became ill and the following day the cruise operators ordered her and her husband to leave the vessel.

On Tuesday, after hearing two days of evidence, an inquest into the death of Mrs Hayward was concluded at Suffolk Coroner's Court, in Ipswich.

Suffolk Coroner's Court
Suffolk Coroner's Court

Mrs Hayward was initially treated in Italy and then the UK before her death at a Bury St Edmunds care home three months later.

Together with her husband Frederick, she had been on a Mediterranean cruise aboard the liner Seven Seas Explorer. During the early hours of April 25, 2017, Mr Hayward called staff for help as she appeared to be having a panic attack.

The inquest was told that after seven people, including a doctor, nurse and security guard, responded, Mrs Hayward was restrained by her hands and legs using a bath robe and then given two doses of a sedative.

Mrs Hayward, who suffered from mild dementia, had been kicking and spitting during what was a 'violent episode', said ship’s doctor Dr Florante Bejar in a statement read to the inquest.

Dr Bejar said that Mrs Hayward had also said she wanted to kill herself and had threatened to jump off the balcony of her cabin. He said that he had never experienced anything like it during his medical career.

The next day, following instructions from the ship’s owners Regent Seven Star in Miami, Mrs Hayward and her husband, who had been married for 64 years, were ordered off the liner in what was described as a 'medical disembarkation'.

Mr Hayward said they were told to get off the ship despite his wife now being much calmer.

The Seven Seas Explorer, which is promotedas the most luxurious ship ever built, put the couple ashore at Sorrento, in Italy, where an ambulance was waiting and Mrs Hayward was taken immediately to hospital.

During the incident, the couple had been made to feel 'like criminals' said Mr Hayward in a statement. They were told they must pay £1,300 for the sedatives administered to his wife.

Mr Hayward, 87, who has since died, said his wife was kept under sedation for five days in an Italian hospital before being flown back to the UK for treatment at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury.

The inquest heard Mrs Hayward then moved to Glastonbury Court care home, where she died on July 29, 2017.

The cruise company said it had followed correct procedures for dealing with the situation and offered appropriate support.

Giving evidence, geriatrician Dr Elena Jameson said she considered Mrs Hayward had been suffering from acute delerium but could not understand why she was rushed to hospital as it would have been more appropriate to allow time for her to calm and adjust.

Nigel Parsley, senior Suffolk Coroner, said in a narrative conclusion that what triggered Mrs Hayward’s episode of acute delerium could not be ascertained but he considered the treatment she received received overseas had a cumulative effect on her death.

In a statement after the inquest, Mrs Hayward’s family said: “It’s clear from the coroner’s verdict that the way my mother was treated after her panic attack led to a catastrophic chain of events resulting in her painful and premature death. We don’t believe this issue is yet resolved.”

Representatives of Regent Seven Star declined to comment as they left the inquest.

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