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Family Demands Action As Coroner Laments Lack Of Training At School After Boy’s Asthma Death

Asthma Attack Death


The parents of a schoolboy who died following an asthma attack have called for stronger implementation of first aid procedures for teachers after a coroner criticised the complete lack of training at his school.

Eleven-year-old Samuel Linton, from Stockport, suffered an asthma attack during lessons at the town's Offerton High School but was left with only his inhaler for several hours until his mother was called and took him to hospital, where he died two hours later.

Today his devastated parents and their lawyers, Irwin Mitchell, demanded that lessons were learned at schools across the country, to ensure another death like Samuel's was avoided, after the inquest into his death recorded a verdict of death by natural causes, significantly contributed to by neglect on an individual and systemic level.

During the three week hearing that concluded today jurors heard that teachers at Offerton were unaware of the school's policy that they should call an ambulance if a pupil had an asthma attack and did not improve within 10 minutes.

The inquest also highlighted:

  • A complete lack of training at the school, particularly among teaching staff, of the nature of asthma and what staff are required to do to protect pupils in their care who are having an asthma attack
  • A conflict between local and national Health Guidance and that given by the PCT and the school as to the need to prepare a Health Care Plan for pupils suffering from severe asthma
  • That guidance was given to the school over many years that severe asthma warranted a formal Health Care Plan, which the school and the PCT appeared to ignore
  • And poor systems for keeping records of pupils who became ill at the school, with staff unable to see a pattern of illness developing and act appropriately.

Samuel, a Year 7 pupil, suffered an asthma attack and was seen using his inhaler at 12.15pm on December 4 2007. He was then seen using it again for what appeared to be another attack at 2.15pm at the end of the first afternoon lesson. He was kept in the classroom, by an open window, with his inhaler, by his form teacher, Janet Ford.

After the lesson finished at 2.15pm Mrs Ford telephoned Student Services who were responsible for First Aid and she was told to send him to them when he got his breath back and his symptoms had calmed down.  Despite this advice, she did not do so, and kept Samuel in the classroom.

Policy guidelines regarding calling an ambulance were ignored and he was found at the end of the school day gasping for air on a bench outside the classroom by worried friends and his brother Jacque, 16, also a pupil at the school.

They tried to get help from Mrs Ford but he was not taken to hospital until his mum was called and arrived at 3.45pm. By this time Karen Linton described his condition as "washed out, his skin had a grey tinge and his mouth was blue."

She took him to Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport where he was taken to resuscitation but died two hours later in the presence of both his parents.

Speaking for the family after the inquest, Jonathan Betts, Partner at Irwin Mitchell in Manchester, said: "This was a truly tragic incident in which a loving family have lost a treasured son under deeply worrying circumstances.  The inquest has shown the lack of training, lack of communication between staff, lack of record keeping and a complete absence of common sense in the event of a child suffering from an asthma attack.

"The fact that no-one called an ambulance during the hours that Sam was suffering from a prolonged asthma attack is truly astounding and very troubling for all parents".

"The last two years have been extremely distressing for Samuel’s family and they are determined to ensure that lessons are learned to ensure no other children are put at risk the way Samuel was.

"We will be continuing our investigation into the way his asthma attack was handled at Offerton High School and will be considering launching proceedings against Stockport Council.

Samuel's parents, Paul and Karen Linton, added: "Samuel was a wonderful son and his loss has been devastating. The inquest highlighted what happened at school that day and the thought that his death may have been prevented is too much to bear."