Homeless Sheffield man who suffered frostbite sleeping on streets died from blood clot

A Sheffield man who suffered severe frostbite after spending a night outside when he was homeless died from a blood clot in his lung.

Saturday, 3rd April 2021, 5:20 pm

Jason Dixon, aged 47, was found dead at the St Wilfrid's supported living centre on Queens Road on September 27, 2019.

An inquest into Jason’s death at Sheffield Coroners’ Court today heard evidence from his former GP, his plastic surgeon and a manager from the Great Places housing association.

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Jason Dixon died from a blood clot in his lung after he suffered severe frostbite while living on the streets of Sheffield.

The court heard Jason has struggled with alcohol problems for much of his life and had spent time living on the streets near Sheffield railway station.

One one of the nights he spent outside he had become hypothermic and as a result suffered severe frostbite to both his lower limbs.

However, after receiving care from Sheffield Teaching Hospital’s plastic surgery team, his wounds were healing and he was described by his surgeon as ‘sober and polite’.

At the time of his death Jason was living at the St Wilfrid’s Centre on Queen’s Road, a supported living centre managed by housing association Great Places.

Great Places manager Steve Donoghue admitted in court there had been an internal investigation after it was discovered a mandatory risk assessment and well-being meeting with Jason had not taken place.

He added that both the manager and officer on duty at the time of the incident were no longer with the business.

However, senior coroner David Urpeth said he was satisfied that these lapses had not contributed to Jason’s death.

In recording a verdict of ‘misadventure’, Mr Urpeth said it was clear that Jason’s death resulted from the cold damage he had suffered after spending a night outside.

He said: “We don’t know why that happened but that set the turn of events going in how he came by his death.

“The tragedy in all of this is that he was making great progress physically. He had almost got through that and things were improving but sadly it was not to be.

“It is a tragedy for him and all those he leaves behind.”

At the conclusion of the inquest, one of Jason’s family members added: “He had found a lady and was going to see his daughter that weekend. He had so much to look forward to.”

Daryl Bishop, CEO of Ben’s Centre, a charity which helps vulnerable people in Sheffield, said Jason’s story, while extreme, was not unsual in the city’s homeless community.

He said: “People in the homeless and substance dependent community can often find it difficult to access mainstream health services, partly due to the idea that they feel shunned and excluded from society and that they are not welcome in GPs surgeries or hospitals.

"This, coupled with the fact that often they are trying to bury a lot of shame, past trauma and general anxieties means they need further encouragement to actually decide to make steps to improve their health.

"Quite often on the streets wounds go undressed, health conditions go ignored and problems eventually become too huge to ignore. Sadly this can often mean that it is too late by the time medical professionals become involved.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.