Cause of death of Derbyshire businessman diagnosed with listeria in hospital 'yet to be ascertained'

The cause of death of a Derbyshire businessman who died after being diagnosed with listeria while being treated in hospital is yet to be established, an inquest has heard.

Ian Hitchcock, 52, was taken into Derby Royal Hospital on May 15 after being diagnosed with liver cancer on May 7.

Derby Coroners Court

Derby Coroners Court

However he was later diagnosed with listeria and died on June 8 after being transferred to Nottingham City Hospital.

Opening his inquest today, Coroner Dr Robert Hunter told Derby Coroner's Court how Ian's cause of death was 'unascertained'.

He told how haulage contractor Ian, of Causeway Farm, Plaistow Green, was identified by his wife Miranda, 50, who was by his side when he died at Nottingham City Hospital on June 8.

A postmortem conducted by Dr Francis Hollingbury found signs of liver failure and meningitis however Dr Hunter added that a final cause of death was 'pending examination'.

He said: "I will adjourn the inquest until a future date pending a definitive cause of death."

The coroner told the court it was not contested that Ian had eaten a sandwich from Staffordshire-based Good Food Chain and had contracted listeria but the cause of death would not be known for six to eight weeks.

Businessman Ian's brother Alan has previously told the BBC he was "shocked and distraught" to hear of his death.

He told how the pair set up a haulage business together in 1984 and worked closely ever since.

He said his brother had rarely taken time off and was a trained mechanic who was passionate about old motorbikes.

Alan described his brother as a "hard-working family man".

Five people have died across the country in cases linked to pre-packed sandwiches and salads eaten by patients at eight hospitals in seven NHS Trusts.

Other hospitals affected include Leicester Royal Infirmary and two hospitals in Western Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, as well as hospitals in Liverpool, Manchester and Wrexham.

The food involved has been withdrawn - though Public Health England (PHE) says the risk to the public is low.

Products from Staffordshire-based Good Food Chain - which supplied 43 NHS Trusts - have been withdrawn.

Listeria infection is rare and usually causes a mild illness in healthy people.

However it can cause more serious consequences among people with pre-existing medical conditions - such as pregnant women and those with a weak immune system.

Royal Derby Hospital said it had been working with Public Health England, the Food Standards Agency and NHS England since the outbreak was identified.