Woman's body found decomposed after support 'withdrawn'

A coroner is to write to mental health service bosses over the death of a 'reclusive' woman whose decomposed body was found at her home.

Robin Balmain
Robin Balmain

Dorothy Wilkinson, who lived alone in Walsall, had been receiving help from the North Community Recovery Centre but support appeared to have tailed off in the last 18 months of her life, an inquest heard.

The hearing at Walsall Manor Hospital was told that she suffered from loneliness and had lost the motivation to keep herself and her bungalow in Bush Street, Darlaston, clean.

She stopped cooking for herself and lived on chips from the local takeaway.

The 58-year-old had stayed at the Dorothy Pattison Hospital in Walsall for a time and told her family she wanted to go back there.

Her brother James Wilkinson said they had only found out after her death that she was still responsible for paying her own bills.

The hearing was told she could barely read and had got into debt. However a report by the mental health services claimed she was able to look after her own affairs.

Mr Wilkinson said the family were unaware of that view. "We thought the mental health services were helping her," he said.

Neighbours raised the alert on July 15 last year when they had not seen her for some time.

A post mortem was unable to identify the cause of death because her body was so badly decomposed.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, West Midlands senior coroner Robin Balmain, said: "It is a matter of concern that there appears to have been little in the way of support for this lady in the last 18 months.

"She had mental capacity and didn't want to change but she clearly wasn't coping. It raises the question as to why there was no support.

"It is not possible to link her death with any lack of support but I shall be contacting the North Community Recovery Service to draw their attention to the matter and asking why the support appears to have been withdrawn."

Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust said they looked forward to hearing from the coroner.

Trust chief executive Gary Graham said: “We were sad to learn of the death of Dorothy Wilkinson. We welcome the coroner’s correspondence to help us carry out a full investigation.”