‘Fun-loving’ 22-year-old died after taking cocktail of medication, inquest hears

Suffolk Coroners' Court in Ipswich Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

Suffolk Coroners' Court in Ipswich Picture: ADAM HOWLETT - Credit: Archant

A “fun-loving” 22-year-old carer from Stowmarket died after taking a “massive” cocktail of medication, an inquest has heard.

Gemma MacDonald died on July 22 at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds after calling the outreach service the night before saying she had taken an overdose.

At an inquest into her death, her step-sister Lorna Hicks described her as "hilarious", saying she always had "a big smile" on her face.

She said Miss MacDonald worked as a senior carer at a care home, a job she said was "shaping her into the person she would become".

Her mother Alison added: "She could be a bit rebellious but she was still just so lovable."

The inquest in Ipswich heard Miss MacDonald had suffered mental health issues in the past, including anxiety and depression and had reported hearing voices in her head.

Her mother told the inquest the voices had told her to do things, and that the only way to make them go was to submerge herself in the bath.

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"She would make a joke about them and give them names," she said.

"I think she would try and play it down a bit."

The inquest heard Miss MacDonald had taken a large cocktail of medication at around 9pm on July 21. There was a delay in the ambulance arriving after she was put on a lower category of priority due to the 999 call coming from a health care professional rather than herself.

Christopher Hewitson, from the ambulance service, said there had been a big surge in 999 calls that day, and they were having to be stacked.

Miss MacDonald got to West Suffolk Hospital at around 1.40am.

Doctors administered fluids and discussed whether to move her to the intensive care unit. She had an elevated heart rate, but was conscious and talking with staff.

However, at around 6am, she started to deteriorate rapidly, becoming confused and agitated. She was moved to the intensive care unit but died at around 10.20am.

The inquest heard no-one at the hospital had called the family to let them know until after her death as Miss MacDonald had previously told staff she didn't want to wake her mother.

Dr Jeremy Mauger, a consultant in anaesthetics and intensive care at the hospital, apologised for the call not being made. "This was incorrectly overlooked and I am very sorry about that," he said.

"Up until the point she significantly deteriorated, I think she was trying to protect you."

The inquest continues today.

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