Paul Reynolds has successfully represented the family of a patient who died at Prospect Park Hospital, as a result of choking on food. The patient, Anne Roberts, had been detained for her own safety under the Mental Health Act. Despite suffering a number of choking or near-miss events, she went on to suffer a further fatal choking incident. The inquest was heard over four days at Reading Coroner’s Court in front of a jury.

In its conclusions, the jury made a series of very critical findings regarding Anne’s care. The jury concluded that Speech and Language Therapy guidelines regarding appropriate types of food to give to Anne ‘were inadequately passed on’ to relevant staff and that the food given to her ‘failed to meet the guidelines’. In addition, when Anne began to eat, the jury found that ‘staff actions were inadequate to minimise the risk of choking’. The jury concluded that these failings caused or contributed to Anne’s death.

Further to oral and written submissions made by Paul, and as a result of his concerns of the risk of future similar deaths occurring, the Coroner issued a Prevention of Further Deaths report pursuant to his powers under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 highlighting four outstanding areas of concern relating to the management of patients who have choking risks.

Paul Reynolds was instructed by Merry Varney and Sophie Wells of Leigh Day.

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