A COMPANY has been fined £150,000 over safety failings which led to a care home resident contracting Legionnaires’ disease and suffering an “agonising” death.
Andy Clegg (56) died in November 2017, around two weeks after he was admitted to Salisbury District Hospital. Doctors diagnosed him as suffering from pneumonia arising from exposure to the Legionella bacteria.
An investigation found that Andy, described by family as a “loving and caring man”, picked up the bacteria from the bathroom taps and shower in the en suite of his room at Fordingbridge Care Home.
A subsequent investigation found the bacteria in a “number of rooms”. The company which runs it, Sentinel Health Care Ltd, based at Fritham, near Lyndhurst, was prosecuted by national care watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
At Southampton Magistrates’ Court, Sentinel admitted two charges of failing to provide care and treatment in a safe way that resulted in harm or loss. In addition to the fine, it was ordered to pay £17,500 court costs.
In the wake of the sentencing, Andy’s family issued a safety warning amid their campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of Legionella.
His brother Matt (50) said: “While three years has passed since Andy’s death, the hurt and pain we continue to feel is as strong now as when he died.
“His death was hard enough to take but we feel our pain was only added to by the position the company and its managing director Al Donnelly have adopted.
“We tried to raise concerns with the company but felt that there was reluctance for them to accept any responsibility.”
After his death the family enlisted law firm Irwin Mitchell to represent them at an inquest and make a civil claim against Sentinel. The inquest jury at Salisbury Coroners’ Court concluded Andy died from Legionnaires’ bacteria contracted at the Fordingbridge home.
Nicholas Rheinberg, Salisbury assistant coroner, asked the CQC to investigate and review the training it gives to water safety inspectors.
Matt added: “While we’re pleased to have secured justice for Andy, we would rather he still be part of our family. Our only hope now is that Andy’s death reminds Sentinel and other companies of the need to uphold safety standards at all times so others don’t have to suffer like he did.”
Andy was a former hunt saboteur and had once been drummer in a psychedelic rock band that played a Stonehenge festival.
Andy’s sister Joanne Denyer said his family witnessed him die an “agonising death” at hospital.
When the matter went before Southampton magistrates, Ryan Donoghue, representing the CQC, explained Andy’s family put him into a care home because he had a number of underlying health problems – including a degenerative brain disease.
It was only after Andy suffered a fall at the home and was taken to Salisbury hospital that medics found he had contracted Legionnaires’ disease.
Public Health England and the CQC found the presence of Legionnaires’ in “a number” of rooms at Fordingbridge Care Home that had placed staff and other residents at risk.
The court heard the Station Road building was newly constructed and opened in 2012, but it had run into a host of problems, including with the plumbing.
Defence barrister Jason Leonard said Sentinel offered Andy’s family an apology. He added it had policies in place and had worked with Totton-based Freeston Water Treatment Ltd to try to address some of the issues.
The care home building suffered problems because “inferior pipework” was installed when it was built, Mr Leonard claimed, which contributed to “poor flow” through its water systems.
Mr Leonard highlighted Sentinel had no previous convictions, co-operated with investigators and had received ‘good’ CQC inspection ratings since Andy’s death.