Legionnaires’ Warning As Care Home Firm Sentinel Healthcare Fined After Resident’s Death

Relatives And Legal Team Call For Lessons To Be Learned After Securing Justice In Brother’s Memory

The family of a care home resident who died from Legionnaires’ disease have issued a safety warning after a company was today fined £150,000 in connection with his death in November 2017.

Andy Clegg, who was a resident at Fordingbridge Care Home in Hampshire, died around two weeks after he was admitted to Salisbury District Hospital. He had been diagnosed with Legionella Pneumonia, a recognised complication arising from exposure to the Legionella bacteria.

Following the 56-year-old’s death his family, including his brother Matt Clegg, instructed expert public health lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate and help them obtain answers as to why Andy died. 

The legal experts secured an admission of liability and an undisclosed settlement from Sentinel Healthcare, which runs Fordingbridge Care Home. 

Following the civil case Andy’s family continued to campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of Legionella. 

The Care Quality Commission launched a criminal investigation against Sentinel Healthcare which pleaded guilty to charges of causation of harm and death to Andy and exposure of all other residents at the care home to a risk of harm.

The home operator was today fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,500 and a victim surcharge of £170 during a sentencing hearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court.

Expert Opinion

“While more than three years may have passed since Andy’s death his family remain devastated by their loss.

“What has particularly upset the family is Sentinel’s initial reluctance to engage with them. It wasn’t until the public scrutiny of the inquest that the company acknowledged that Andy’s exposure to Legionella bacteria took place at the home, and admitted liability.

“All of Andy’s family have been determined that no stone be left unturned in establishing all of the answers as to why he died so all lessons possible can be learned.

“Sadly through our work we are only too aware of the devastating consequences of Legionnaires’ disease and nothing highlights this more than Andy’s death.

“Nothing can ever make up for their loss but we hope that Andy’s family can now try to look to the future the best they can knowing that justice has been done in the criminal prosecution. However, it’s vital that all appropriate steps are taken to prevent incidents such as this from reoccurring.” Jatinder Paul – Senior Associate Solicitor

Andy moved into Fordingbridge Care Home in April 2017 following issues with his mental health. However, that October he fell seriously ill and died. 

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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 it was when he died.

“Andy was such a loving and caring man. It wasn’t an easy decision for him to go into Fordingbridge but we thought in doing so he would receive the best possible care. However, just a few months later 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.

“It was only when we asked others to help investigate that we feel our concerns started to be taken seriously and what happened to Andy started to be established.

“Andy was a huge part of our family and we all still miss him every day. 

“We have always known that nothing could ever make up for his death but as a family we owed him a duty to find out what happened to him and why. 

“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.”

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In March 2019 an inquest jury concluded that Andy died as a result of Legionnaires’ bacteria that he contracted at the home run by Sentinel Healthcare.  The bacteria were present in vast quantities in Andy’s bathroom taps and shower.

Following the conclusion Nicholas Rheinberg, Salisbury Assistant Coroner, said he would contact the Care Quality Commission to conduct their own investigation, asking it to review the training given to water safety inspectors.

Find out more about our expertise in supporting families affected by Legionnaires’ disease at our public health section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.

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