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Mum-of-two Esther Gibson, from Ramsgate, felt doctors did not take her epilepsy seriously before her death

By Anna MacSwan

A mum with severe epilepsy felt doctors were failing to take her seriously in the months before her death, an inquest has heard.

Esther Gibson, 34, of Cheriton Avenue, Ramsgate, was discovered unresponsive in her bed on October 19, 2017 by her son William after suffering a medical episode.

An inquest held at Canterbury Coroner's Court on Wednesday heard how William, now 19, had gone to check on his mother at around 11am after he became worried she had not yet woken up.

The QEQM hospital
The QEQM hospital

The mother-of-two had suffered epileptic seizures since her early teens and had gone to rest at around 9.30pm the night before, after helping her daughter get ready for a school performance.

Giving evidence, Ms Gibson's friend Kayleigh Green described how her health had suffered a marked deterioration since April that year, despite having always been a "positive person" who "never allowed her health issues to hold her back".

The inquest heard how Ms Gibson, who was under the care of GPs at Newington Road Surgery and neurologists at the QEQM hospital, had begun to suffer more frequent seizures at different times of day, having primarily experienced them at night in the past.

"She was lying there saying there was no point asking for help because everyone thought she was making it up..." Kayleigh Green

"I know Esther had appointments with specialists, but she didn't think anyone was taking her seriously," Ms Green continued.

"She was lying there saying there was no point asking for help because everyone thought she was making it up."

Ms Gibson, who was her father's main carer until he died in September 2014, had also been receiving support for depression and anxiety from the Beacon Community Mental Health Centre.

Speaking on behalf of his family, William described how the death of his grandfather, who suffered motor neurone disease and cancer of the oesophagus, had left his mother "without direction".

"She became anxious and depressed because she was worried she had not done everything she could for him, and worried he had been in pain in his last days," he explained.

Cheriton Avenue, Ramsgate (8472336)
Cheriton Avenue, Ramsgate (8472336)

A post-mortem examination found potentially fatal levels of codeine, tramadol and morphine in Ms Gibson's blood and determined the cause of her death to have been multiple drug toxicity with pneumonia. Her epilepsy was also listed as a factor.

Speaking at the inquest, police constable Neil Findon said there was "no indication of any suspicious circumstances or third party being involved in the sudden death of Esther Gibson".

The hearing was adjourned after Ms Gibson's family posed multiple questions to witnesses, including whether her death could have been prevented if her epilepsy and medication had been managed more thoroughly.

Assistant coroner James Dillon said: "I would like to try to understand the way in which the prescribed medication marries up with the rates that have been detected on the toxicology reports.

"I will make the requisite inquiries and ask that my officers bring this back as quickly as we can."

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