Daughter wants answers after death in care home

NADV 1407221AM2 Ann Marie Gregory who's step father choked to death in Alexander Court Care Home. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1407221AM2)
NADV 1407221AM2 Ann Marie Gregory who's step father choked to death in Alexander Court Care Home. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1407221AM2)

The step-daughter of a man who choked to death at a Harrogate care home fears that authorities have ‘swept the problem under the carpet.’

Ann Marie Gregory said she is still seeking answers about William O’Connell’s death at Alexander Court Care Home on Cornwall Road last July.

North Yorkshire County Council has repeatedly refused Freedom of Information requests and refused to reveal information to the Advertiser about its investigation which they say is ‘ongoing’.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me, they say they want to learn lessons but how can they if they don’t talk about it publicly,” said Ms Gregory, a barrister.

“It is in the public’s interest to make sure that lessons have been learnt, and something like this doesn’t happen again.”

She added: “It is coming up to a year now and this whole thing has been very stressful .”

Ms Gregory said the Coroner’s office had been very open with her, however she had struggled to get information from the social services department of North Yorkshire County Council.

Ms Gregory said: “At one point I was visited social services who read me a report, when I asked for a copy of it I was told no. It was hard to take it all in, it was very distressing, my friend wasn’t allowed in the room to comfort me.”

A spokesman for North Yorkshire County Council said: “The multi-agency review on lessons learnt from the Alexander Court case is on-going, so it is therefore not possible at this stage to give any findings from that review.

“In any case, as the county council has now been informed that an inquest is to take place and we would not want to make further comment ahead of that inquest.”

In response to the Advertiser’s requests for information the county council said that although the North Yorkshire’s adults safeguarding board collective care review is largely concluded it is now leading a process to look at the lessons learned from the multiagency involvement and subsequent closure of this nursing home.

The council added that disclosing information would inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.

An inquest into Mr O’Connells death was opened and adjourned last July and Coroner Rob Turnbull established the cause of the 76-year-olds death was respiratory obstruction.

He said: “He was being fed by staff at the nursing home when he started choking, a short time later CPR was carried out on Mr O’Connell but he died of respiratory obstruction caused by choking on food with Parkinsons disease as a contributory factor.”

The inquest is set to be concluded later this month.