Inquest opens on tragic Tipton mother after sepsis death

By Richard Guttridge | Tipton | News | Published:

A mother of six was ‘climbing the walls in pain’ before she died of sepsis, an inquest heard.

Natalie Billingham

Natalie Billingham died in February after being admitted to A&E with suspected deep vein thrombosis.

Her inquest opened at Black Country Coroner’s Court yesterday.

Relatives had previously said the 34-year-old from Tipton had spent 12 hours in a cubicle before it was detected that she had sepsis in her foot.

Her leg was amputated but her devastated family were later told the infection had spread too far and caused organ failure.

The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Russells Hall, has since apologised after her death and launched an investigation.

The hearing was told Natalie had originally gone to Sandwell Hospital on February 27 because of a problem with her foot.

Her mother, Mariane Tranter, described it as ‘she could see it touching the floor, but could not feel it touching the floor’.

She also said her daughter had had cold symptoms for a couple of days previously but no fever.


Ms Tranter said: “It was her right foot, but she was not in pain. If she tried to stand on it, she would go off.

“She was kind of dragging it on the floor behind her.

“It just happened she had been lying on the floor. She thought it was pins and needles but it did not come back. That was the Tuesday afternoon.

“It looked a little a puffy, nothing to raise concern. I went home and she rang me to say her foot was really hurting, so I took her to hospital.”


The hearing was told they went to A&E at Sandwell Hospital. Ms Tranter said that during triage they did not ask what she had done or examine her foot.

She was later sent for an x-ray, which showed she had not broken or fractured it – and they were told it was ligament damage and sent away with a prescription.

Ms Tranter told the heating that at this point her foot had changed colour to a ‘purple, pink colour with white spots’. She added her daughter had been crying from the pain. She said: “I went home and believed that’s what it was, I went to work the next morning. I went back to Natalie’s after work, about 2pm, and looked at her leg and thought it was swollen. The swelling had gone up her ankle towards her calf. She was in excruciating pain.

“As her children were there, I went to my car to call 999. I told them it was something going on with her leg.

“The ambulance was there very quickly and efficiently. They put her on gas and air and suggested they thought she had deep vein thrombosis.

“They took her to Russell’s Hall, and I followed in my car. It was about 5pm-ish when we got there.”

Ms Tranter said she was told she could not wait where the ambulances were and was told to wait in A&E.

“She was climbing the walls in pain. She was on and off the trolley, it was horrific. They had given her morphine,” she said. “I went and asked if she could have anymore and they said they couldn’t give her anymore yet. Her leg was still different colours, like a mottled effect, gone up to her calf and shin."

A doctor did come in and pressed both calves and said her leg was not going to burst and went out. They did not inform me of anything.”

Natalie’s husband Stuart, 37, received a call at 3.40am to say they had taken his wife into theatre but had no further information.

“I raced back to the hospital for about 4.30am and she came out in an induced coma to protect her organs,” he said.

“They took her to theatre again because they thought they got it all, at this point they said it was sepsis. They took her in again, but by this time it was too late.”

The inquest continues.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Chief Reporter - @RichG_star

Chief Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton.

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