The wife of legendary football manager Brian Clough died after falling from a car and banging her head in a hospital car park after receiving treatment for cancer, an inquest heard.
Barbara Clough, 75, had been at Royal Derby Hospital for radiotherapy treatment when she fell from the passenger seat of her daughter’s vehicle on July 11 last year.
An inquest heard how the widow was taken back in for checks to a head injury but was sent home after she appeared “alert and attentive”.
Four days later her condition started to deteriorate and she was rushed back into hospital where it emerged she had developed a bleed on the brain.
Tragically, Mrs Clough died five days later on July 20 in from bronchopneumonia.
The hearing at Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner’s Court on Friday was told how Mrs Clough was sent home following the fall without having a CT scan.
Daughter Elizabeth queried whether a scan should have been carried out on her mother but Dr Dan Boden, consultant in emergency medicine at Derby’s hospitals, told the inquest that Mrs Clough had not met the criteria for one.
A CT scan was later carried out when Mrs Clough returned to hospital on July 15, which showed she had a subdural haematoma – where blood collects between the skull and the surface of the brain.
The court was told this left her susceptible to developing the severe chest infection which eventually caused her death.
Recording a conclusion of accidental death, assistant coroner Paul McCandless said Mrs Clough received “focus and proportionate” care in hospital at all times.
After the inquest Elizabeth – who was accompanied at the hearing by her brother Simon – paid tribute to her mum and said: “Our beautiful mum was a dignified, strong and gentle person.
“Nobody had a negative word to say about her and she is so missed.”
The news of Mrs Clough’s death came only two months after Lilian Taylor – the wife of Clough’s right-hand man, Peter Taylor – died at the age of 84.
Clough and Taylor took Nottingham Forest from the old Second Division into the top flight of English Football, winning the League title in 1978 and two European Cups in 1979 and 1980.
Before that Clough, who died in 2004, spent six seasons transforming Derby County and took the Rams from Division Two status to League champions in 1971-72.
Clough married Barbara in 1959 while playing for Middlesbrough, and went on to become one of the greatest – and feistiest – managers of all time.
The sharp-witted manager once said of his wife of 45 years: “Meeting Barbara was the best thing I ever did.”
When a statue of her husband was unveiled in Nottingham in 2008, Barbara said: “He stood up as a man as well as a manager. People won’t realise how thoughtful he was, he was so kind.”
After her death, hundreds of people including former players and managers paid tribute to her.
Former Derby County player Roy MacFarland led the tributes and called her ‘the woman behind the man’.
He said: “I imagine at times Brian must have been rather difficult to live with. Barbara sorted out the kids, the home, the family and everything else.
“She was the rock behind him, she gave him the time and the confidence to do what he had to do.”
Verdict: Accidental death.