Salmonella At Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital Reportedly Caused Death

Expert Public Health Lawyers Instructed To Investigate Salmonella Outbreak


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463

The devastated family of an 88-year-old man have instructed specialist Public Health lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the cause of his death after reports that he died having contracted Salmonella food poisoning whilst being treated for a leg injury at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital.

Leonard Spiers from Ward End in Birmingham was admitted to the hospital on 9 May last year after he fell outside his bathroom fracturing his leg and needed treatment for his injuries. He began to suffer from diarrhoea and stomach cramps whilst at hospital and became very frail and sadly died on 7 June 2014.

The 88-year-old widower was one of 32 patients and staff to be infected with Salmonella at the hospital in 2014. 

The source of the infection has since reportedly been traced to contaminated eggs produced at the Bayern Ei farm in Bavaria, Germany. Footage has emerged of poor conditions at the German egg producer’s farm and public prosecutors in Germany have launched an investigation.

Irwin Mitchell’s Public Health team is also representing more than 30 people affected by the national outbreak of Salmonella poisoning  in the summer of 2014 which was  linked to The Real China restaurant in Southampton, and 2 people in Liverpool whose illnesses have also linked to the same batch of eggs.

Leonard’s son Terence has now instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether there were failings by the hospital’s staff or its agents which led to Leonard contracting the infection and to help them find some answers as to the circumstances leading up to his death.

Amandeep Dhillon, a specialist Public Health lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, representing Leonard’s family, said: 

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“This is an absolutely tragic case; Leonard sought medical attention at his local hospital after a fall and then contracted Salmonella food poisoning whilst in the hospital.

“We will be looking into whether the outbreak at Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital in 2014 could have been avoided and this case highlights just how serious gastric illnesses, such as Salmonella, can be and the fact that hygiene and safety practices should not be ignored.

“The footage and images of the conditions at a farm in Bavaria, which has recently been linked to the outbreak, are shocking and it is vital that a thorough investigation is conducted to determine the cause of the wider outbreak and I have personally worked closely with German groups who have been investigating the issue.”
Amandeep Dhillon, Partner

A report from Professor Eric Bolton into the outbreak of Salmonella at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital has found that inadequately equipped wards, unmonitored food preparation, and poor cleaning helped the bacteria spread.

The report included the following recommendations:

  • The Trust should review its infection control and cleaning services to ensure they meet the requirements of The Health and Social Care Act 2008
  • Review the need for a plan that deals with major incidents or outbreaks
  • Regularly review major policies that relate to patient safety and infection control procedures as a number were overdue for review
  • Review all of its high-risk, specialist wards in the light of the experience from this outbreak and ensure that the ward environment and equipment is fit for purpose
  • The Trust should ensure that all ward staff handling food undertake food hygiene training
  • An on-going review of the relationship with G4S to address any ward-based staff concerns about the service
  • Review the communications strategy for ward-based staff, who do not have daily access to email, especially when there are outbreaks onwards.

Terence said: “Our family has been left shocked and devastated by my father’s death and we are desperate to find answers to our questions as to how he was admitted for a fractured leg and ended up contracting Salmonella food poisoning which caused his condition to decline so rapidly.

“It was extremely difficult to see him struggling with his health and he became very weak and frail.

“I hope that with the help of our legal team at Irwin Mitchell that we can seek justice in his memory and hope that Birmingham Heartlands Hospital can learn from this tragedy and try to ensure that this cannot happen again.”