Inquest opens into Derby Hospital 'listeria case'

Listeria bacteria Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Listeria infection is rare and usually causes a mild illness in healthy people

The inquest of a cancer patient whose death has been linked to the listeria outbreak has opened.

Ian Hitchcock, 52, was being treated at Derby's Royal Hospital after being diagnosed with liver cancer last month.

The family of the Derbyshire businessman said they believe he contracted listeria before he died on 8 June.

However, opening the inquest at Derby Coroner's Court, Dr Robert Hunter said a cause of death was "unascertained".

He said further examinations would need to be carried out to determine a cause.

Image caption Ian Hitchcock was being treated at the Royal Hospital

The court previously said Mr Hitchcock's death was being treated as a "possible listeria case".

At Friday's hearing, the court was told Mr Hitchcock, from Crich, had eaten a sandwich from the Staffordshire-based Good Food Chain and it was "not contested" that he had contracted listeria.

Mr Hunter said he had contracted the infection five or six weeks ago, but as a post-mortem examination was inconclusive, it was still unclear whether listeria had contributed to his death.

A statement from Home Office pathologist Frances Hollingbury read in court said evidence was found of liver failure, jaundice and a tumour in the colon.

She said the liver was "grossly enlarged", which would be in keeping with a diagnosis of meningitis.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Five people have died after a listeria outbreak linked to pre-packed sandwiches and salads at hospitals

Mr Hitchcock was transferred to Nottingham City Hospital where he died.

Adjourning the inquest, Dr Hunter said the cause of death would be known in six to eight weeks.

Mr Hitchcock's brother Alan told the BBC he was "shocked and distraught" to hear of his death and described him as a "hard-working family man".

Five people have died after nine cases linked to pre-packed sandwiches and salads eaten by patients were confirmed at eight hospitals in seven NHS trusts.

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