Handcuffed woman was seriously ill

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A WIGAN woman who was taken to hospital suffering from mental health problems was found to have a punctured lung.

She was initially taken to Leigh Infirmary but then transferred to Wigan Infirmary after doctors and nurses realised she needed urgent medical attention.

Ms Atkinson, who died in hospital 11 days after being admitted, had been sectioned earlier in the day by police.

Police had been called to Argyle Street, Hindley, where the 39-year-old lived with her partner Russell Edwards, following reports of a woman acting aggressively to her partner.

They found Ms Atkinson clearly distressed, screaming and waving her arms around. Because of her behaviour, police decided to section her under the Mental Health Act for her own safety and took her to hospital for help. Dr Success Sibanda, who was on duty at Wigan Infirmary, said: “Diane was very distressed and aggravated and it was difficult to talk to her but the main concern was her respiratory problem.

“Her oxygen saturation was quite low in the 60s when it should be about 95-100 so we needed to have an X-ray done.”

It was discovered that she had a pneumothorax, or collapsed/punctured lung. She immediately had a drain fitted to allow the punctured lung to inflate.

The court, which was sitting for a second day, heard that a pneumothorax can occur spontaneously for no apparent reason as well as by a traumatic incident which physically pierces it.

It is not yet clear how the hole had been created.

On the first day of the inquest, concerns were raised over PC Paul Allen’s evidence about whether or not Ms Atkinson was outside or not when police arrived.

Ms Atkinson was handcuffed - which is only allowed if someone is in a public place and not inside their home. PC Allen claimed she had been outside.

But PC Julie Ellison, who was with PC Allen at the time Ms Atkinson was detained, told the court yesterday that said she thought they were doing what was for the best and they didn’t think about the powers they had to do it at that time.

She said: “After we detained Ms Atkinson and put her in the back of the van, PC Allen asked me to contact Leigh Infirmary and told me he’d detained her under section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

“I hadn’t really thought about what powers we had to detain her, I just wanted to do the right thing and get her to hospital as quickly as possible.”

Although an ambulance crew attended the scene, they were not able to help Ms Atkinson because she was deemed not to have the capacity to either consent or refuse treatment.