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Woman Dies of Hypothermia Due to Fear of High Energy Bills

An 87-year-old woman, Barbara Bolton, died from profound hypothermia after being found slumped in her home in Bury, Greater Manchester. The inquest revealed that Bolton repeatedly refused to put on her heating due to fears over high energy bills. Her grandson found her unable to speak on December 11, 2022. Medical professionals discovered that her body temperature was only 28C, which is far below the normal temperature of 37C. She was taken to Fairfield hospital in Bury but died of pneumonia brought on by hypothermia on January 5, 2023.

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Bolton was supported by an extended family, but was stubborn and ignored their pleas to put on the heating at her terraced house in Bury, Greater Manchester. Her family encouraged her to put on the heating and told her not to worry about the bills, but she refused to listen. Hospital notes recorded that she deliberately did not turn on her heating “for fear of high energy bills.”

Mark Bolton, Barbara Bolton’s son, said that his mother was “old school” and that “It was my way or no one’s way with my mum.” He added that she had only given up work as a Tesco pharmacy assistant at the age of 82. Medical evidence presented in the court said she had hardly visited a GP in her life. The family had even bought her heaters, but she would only put these on when the family visited.

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The coroner, Joanne Kearsley, recorded a conclusion of misadventure, stating that Bolton had become fixated on the worry of putting on her heating and that no matter what anyone was telling her, she was not going to do anything differently. She commended the family for their efforts, saying, “What comes across clearly from both the hospital statements and from your own is how much, as a family, you cared and looked after your mum.”

This tragic incident highlights the need to ensure that elderly people are adequately protected from the cold, especially during winter. It is essential to encourage and help them to maintain a safe and comfortable home environment.

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