THE family of a hospital campaigner and former councillor have told an inquest he died "from a broken heart" following the death of his wife four years earlier.

Keith Fisher died in August at James Cook University Hospital following complications from heart surgery which he had just days earlier.

But his family told his inquest at Teesside Coroner's Court yesterday that Mr Fisher, who was 76 when he died, had "never been the same" since the death of his wife, Elaine, in 2014.

Mr Fisher, who served as both a Labour and independent councillor in Hartlepool, had been instrumental in the Save Our Hospital Group as its chairman, which campaigned to keep emergency services open at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

The services closed in 2011, but Mr Fisher said he would “never stop fighting” for the hospital.

Mr Fisher's son, Michael, told the inquest: "We agreed to have the Aortic valve replacement. All the risks were explained and he nodded to me when he signed the form.

"He suffered complications and he did not regain consciousness.

"He would fight until the bitter end, he did that all of his life, but when he lost mum four years ago, he lost the will to live.

"There were no issues or concerns with his care at James Cook University Hospital, we held staff in the very highest regard."

The inquest heard Mr Fisher had been "unable to cope with the stresses and demands of major surgery" and without the operation, he would have died from heart failure "at some point in the future".

Senior Coroner Clare Bailey said: "Keith was very poorly when he went into hospital and this was deepened by the effects of the surgery.

"I am satisfied he knew of the risks and he signed the documents in good faith.

"Technically it was a successful operation but sadly Keith didn't have the reserves to pull through, not just because of the stresses of the operation but his own ill health."

Ms Bailey recorded a verdict of a combination of natural causes and the physical stress from Aortic valve replacement.