THE wife of a surgeon at Burnley General Hospital died after accidentally taking a lethal combination of sleeping pills and alcohol, an inquest heard.

Patricia Cox, 66, of High Brake, Favordale Road, in Colne died on December 4 last year in her sleep.

The wife of Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Peter Cox was taking several medications for numerous conditions, including an underactive thyroid, depression and a back pain.

At an inquest into her death at Burnley Magistrates’ Court, East Lancashire Coroner Richard Taylor heard Mrs Cox had been to the funeral of a family friend the day before her death.

The hearing was told she had consumed a number of gin and tonics before taking a Zopiclone sleeping pill and heading to bed.

Dr Cox, supported by his daughter, said he had checked on his wife shortly after 2am.

As he opened the door he described finding his wife in a docile state slumped in bed.

After making her more comfortable Dr Cox decided to get some sleep.

When he awoke in the morning he discovered his wife was not breathing and called an ambulance but she was pronounced dead.

The coroner also heard toxicological evidence form pathologist Dr Walid Salman.

Dr Salman said: “The toxicology test showed the equivalent to six pints of larger in Mrs Cox’s blood as well as a hypnotic, anti-depressant and paracetomol all in therapeutic doses.

“I recorded the cause of death as toxicity, the combination of Zopiclone and alcohol.”

The coroner, Mr Taylor said: “Mrs Cox would have had not of realised that taking Zopiclone in junction with alcohol would have led to her death. I record a verdict of accidental death.”