Care-Home Residents Abandoned

30-01-2014

    Staff at a Liverpool care home left elderly residents inside the building during a fire, despite evacuating themselves.

    Liverpool magistrates' court heard that fire officers raised concerns about St Michael’s Mount Nursing Home on Woolton Road in Liverpool following a fire in October 2012.

    Fire-fighters saw four members of staff outside the property while residents were still in their rooms.

    The home’s owners, Michael Hanlon, 67, and James Mutch, 68, claim that the staff simply panicked, and have since been disciplined.  However, the judge ruled that the staff were not to blame, and today fined Hanlon and Mutch a total of £44,000 after they pleaded guilty to seven breaches of fire regulations.

    These included failing to provide an adequate fire risk assessment, failing to maintain an effective fire alarm system (although the fire alarm had activated that night), failing to keep emergency exits clear, failing to have a suitable fire evacuation procedure, having defective fire doors and failing to provide staff with appropriate information.

    The court heard fire broke out in the sluice room due to an unforeseeable electrical fault.

    Warren Spencer, prosecuting for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, said evacuation procedures should have “kicked in” but staff had made “no effort to evacuate residents”.

    Officers also found some of the fire doors were “wedged open”.

    At least two residents, aged 85 and 98, needed treatment for smoke inhalation following the fire, one of whom was sent to hospital.

    He said the fire service acknowledges the difficulties there would be to evacuate infirm residents, but a proper plan would have helped get them to a place of safety, if not outside.

    Mr Spencer said: “The fire service accepts fires will occur. What is paramount therefore is the way in which the fire is dealt with and evacuation of the premises plan is in place. Staff in this case effectively walked away from the fire and residents and left the fire service to deal with it.”

    The home is now fully compliant with fire safety regulations. Judge Jones handed both Hanlon and Mutch a fine of £22,000 each, and ordered Mutch to pay more than £4,000 costs.

 

            
Collated by Philip Turnbull