Worker will not be charged over death

Death probe: Croft House Rest Home, Freckleton
Death probe: Croft House Rest Home, Freckleton

A care worker will not face prosecution by police following the death of a 93-year-old pensioner at a Freckleton care home.

Freda Owens, who suffered scalding to her lower back and buttock at The Croft House Rest Home on November 22, 2012, had been due to move to another home.

She died at the Royal Preston Hospital on January 3.

A pre-inquest hearing held at Blackpool Coroner’s Court heard that police had concluded enquiries into the incident and sought advice from the Crown Prosection Service.

But it had been decided that a care worker at the home should not be prosecuted.

However, a Fylde Council spokesman confirmed the authority had recently been asked by police to ‘investigate health and safety issues’ in relation to the case.

At the hearing, Micaila Williams, a solicitor representing Mrs Owens’ family, including her daughter and granddaughter, who live in Northamptonshire, said they had “raised issues with the home” before the incident.

Miss Williams said Mrs Owens had been due to move to the Seagrave House care home in Corby.

The court heard that Dr Alison Armer, a pathologist at the Royal Preston Hospital, had reported the cause of death as being bronchial pneumonia due to necrotic, chronic pressure ulcer to the left hip and burns or scalds to the buttock.

Miss Williams said Colin Rayner, a retired burns consultant who was asked to look at the case, had suggested Mrs Owens’ pressure sore could have been avoided in hospital, and had not identified any problems with her treatment at the nursing home.

But she said another expert, Geoffrey Phillips, a consultant physician with the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, had concluded that Mrs Owens’ “fate had been sealed” before she went into hospital, and that her hospital care had been good.

Miss Williams said: “There’s some suggestion matters could have been dealt with differently in hospital and if that’s right the family wish for that to be explored.”

The pre-inquest was adjourned to allow further evidence to be obtained, including from the hospital.

The full hearing will take place either on September 12-13 or November 12-13 depending on how soon the evidence is received.

The Care Quality Commission had carried out a review of the home during a visit in July 2012 and found “areas of non-compliance with some essential standards of quality and safety”.

It said care planning and risk management were inadequate and asked the home for an action plan.

The next inspection took place on January 14, 2013, shortly after Mrs Owens’ death, and concluded that a new care plan had helped to bring about improvements. It concluded that care and treatment was now “planned and delivered in a way that ensured people’s safety and welfare.”

The home failed to meet a standard for the safety and suitability of its premises 
until the most recent inspection last October, but this was more to do with the general decor and upkeep of the premises. The hospital and the care home were not available for comment.