Nursery fined £800k after baby chokes to death
24 January 2022
AN EDINBURGH nursery has been fined £800,000 after an eleven-month-old boy in its care died after choking on a piece of food.
The young boy was eating dinner at Bright Horizons Corstorphine Nursery on 9 July 2019 when he began to choke.
When a staff member returned from using the bathroom, she thought he was sleeping. When she realised he was not breathing, an ambulance was called and staff attempted to dislodge the blockage in his airway by slapping him on the back. They also performed CPR.
When paramedics arrived they were able to remove the obstruction, which was later found to be a piece of mango. The young boy was taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children but died the following day.
An investigation found that between 21 May 2019 and 9 July 2019 the employer, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd, failed to provide employees at the Corstorphine nursery with suitable instruction and supervision to adequately control the risk of choking during mealtimes. The investigation also found a number of other occasions between 21 May 2019 and 9 July 2019 when staff were involved with other tasks and therefore not watching the children eat.
At Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd admitted failings under Health and Safety at Work legislation and was fined £800,000.
Since the child’s death the company has reviewed its policies and procedures, and provided additional training to all Scottish staff.
Alistair Duncan, head of the health and safety investigation unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said, “This tragic death could have been prevented if staff had been given suitable instruction and supervision in relation to their duties to properly supervise children’s mealtimes.
“Childcare providers have an enormous responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children in their care, but in this case, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd failed to live up to that responsibility.
“This should serve as a warning to others of the devastating consequences of such failures.
“My sincere condolences are with the family as they attempt to come to terms with their loss.”
Ros Marshall, managing director of Bright Horizons has commented, “Our thoughts continue to be with Fox Goulding and his family. There are no words which are adequate to console them and we offer our heartfelt apologies.
"Our acceptance of responsibility today makes clear that the mealtime safety procedures we had in place at our Corstorphine Nursery in 2019 were not properly observed, with terrible consequences.
"Every day we care for children and fully appreciate that keeping children safe is always the first priority. We have comprehensively reviewed how we operate, including all our mealtime safety procedures, staff training and our supervision arrangements, to ensure that the right lessons were learned from this tragedy.
"Fox’s memory will forever live on in our hearts and minds, influencing our practice and shaping our approach to keeping everyone safe.”