Shropshire Council has been fined £25,000 and ordered to pay costs of nearly £40,000 after a vulnerable man choked to death while in the care of one of the Council’s day centres.
Shrewsbury Crown Court heard how Michael Breeze, aged 53, who suffered from learning difficulties, had been taken to the council-run Hartley’s Day Centre in Shrewsbury. He had been provided with a packed lunch by the carers from the residential care home where he normally resided. When he began to eat his lunch at around midday he began to choke and subsequently collapsed. Staff attempted to help him and performed CPR while paramedics were on their way. When the paramedics did arrive shortly afterwards, they attempted to revive him and tried to put a tube into his throat, but this was made more difficult due to the food stuck in his throat. He was rushed to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital but sadly he did not recover.
The court heard that the deceased had a history of choking incidents both at his residential home and at the day-care centre, and the Health and Safety Executive argued that sufficient safeguards were not put in place at the centre, despite these warnings. Shropshire Council was charged with, and admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Caring for elderly and vulnerable people can be challenging, but when we put our loved ones into the care of professionals, we can expect that they will be looked after properly. In this case it was clear that the gentleman had had issues with choking in the past, and this should have been monitored very closely as part of the care being provided.
If you or someone you love has been injured or even died while under the care of a professional body such as a council, a private nursing home or the NHS, you could well be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Care should be provided to the highest standards for each and every patient, and if that is not the case, you should contact one of our solicitors today. We have years of experience in dealing with these types of cases and will swiftly be able to talk through your case – with no obligation to continue with a claim unless you are happy to do so – and to establish how much you could claim.