A social worker with 20 years' experience has admitted that she "failed" pensioner Gloria Foster because she was depressed and finding it difficult to cope with her workload.

Elizabeth Egan, a senior practitioner for Surrey's adults care team at the time of the Banstead pensioner's death, said she had been suffering from burn out.

She told the inquest this afternoon she regretted saying she would organise alternative care arrangements for clients when Care1st24, based in Sutton, was raided by immigration officers and shut down on January 15 last year.

An inquest into Mrs Foster’s death heard on Monday how Mrs Foster was found near death from dehydration and starvation by a district nurse who visited her home in Priory Court, Chipstead Road, Banstead, on January 24.

Mrs Foster, 81, who had been suffering from dementia, depression, and was heavily dependent on external care, died in Epsom Hospital on February 4.

Giving evidence  at Woking Borough Council's civic offices Mrs Egan said: "I didn't think about it much, unfortunately I respond too much without thinking.

"In hindsight, I should have said 'no' as I wasn't in a fit state to take on any extra work. I hadn't been coping for a while.

"I have been suffering from depression for a few years now and was on medication at the time.

"I think I was reaching the point of a burn-out.

"The culture in the team was very much 'just do it and get on with it'."

Mrs Egan added: "For some time I was finding myself being really forgetful and not being able to speak properly as I felt my head was spinning.

"But I was still trying to hold the job down. I failed."

She told the coroner the Surrey adult social care team knew that she was taking medication and she said she had told her manager, Jane Giles, two weeks before that she “wasn’t coping”.

She said that, having looked at Mrs Foster's file, she saw she was being visited by carers four times a day but was not aware the pensioner had dementia.

Mrs Egan said: "I tried to ring the lady. I didn't get any reply.

"I didn't follow it up.

"I failed. I don't think I was even thinking straight anymore. There was too much happening.

"The bottom line is that I failed. I made a mistake."

She said that in the days that followed she "sat back mentally" and "somehow I just blotted it out of my mind and left it".

Mrs Egan said: "There is a bit of an assumption about self-funders which is wrong and I think I made that as well - that they can manage their own care or have help from someone else to arrange it."

She told coroner Richard Travers: "I made a mistake and hold my hands up to it completely but I don't think I was thinking straight anyway so perhaps I shouldn't have been at work, but sometimes you just have to get on with things."

Following a police investigation into the issue last year, the police said it found no record of the call Mrs Egan said she made.

When asked about this at today's inquest by Surrey County Council's lawyer, Mrs Egan said: "I don't know how I can explain that. Whether I pressed the wrong digit, I did that many times.

"I made a call. Unless I rung it wrong."

Also giving evidence at the inquest Ms Giles, who was the locality team manager for Reigate and Banstead at Surrey Adult Social Care at the time, said she had delegated the task of making alternative care arrangements for clients, including Mrs Foster, to Mrs Egan, who she said had volunteered for the task.

She said Mrs Egan said the task was "in hand" and "under progress" when asked about it and Ms Giles admitted she did not seek further, specific, details about the alternative care arrangements.

Ms Giles told the court: "It was work that had been carried out before and I trusted Mrs Egan's feedback.

"It was work we regularly undertook and Mrs Egan had always done work before. "She was a trusted member of the team.

"I think that under the pressure of the workload within the whole team that, right the way down from senior management, we took assumptions on what was happening and there was no clear loop for feedback.

"We all took the assumptions and that's where it went wrong and that was because of the context everyone was working in at the time."

When asked at the inquest by Surrey County Council's lawyer whether "it was your job to ensure that Mrs Egan did her job properly", Ms Giles agreed.

The inquest is expected to last another day but a judgment from the coroner is not expected until next week.