Bright Horizons Corstorphine Nursery: No fine can reflect pain of losing our son, say family of boy who died after choking at Edinburgh nursery

A court has fined an Edinburgh nursery after a young boy choked to death on his food while in their care.

By Rachel Mackie
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 7:12 pm

The young boy was eating dinner at the Bright Horizons Nursery in Corstorphine when he began to choke on his food.

When a staff member returned from using the bathroom, she thought he was sleeping.

She called an ambulance after she realised that he was not breathing, and staff attempted to remove the blockage – a piece of mango – as well as performing CPR.

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Bright Horizons Corstorphine Nursery: Edinburgh nursery fined £800,000 after an 11-month-old boy died from choking on a piece of food

When the paramedics arrived, they were able to remove the obstruction and took the young child to hospital.

He was taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children but died the following day.

An investigation found that between May 21, 2019 and July 9, 2019 the employer failed to provide employees with suitable instruction and supervision to adequately control the risk of choking during mealtimes.

The same investigation also found a number of other occasions between these dates, when staff were involved with other tasks and therefore not watching the children eat.

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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.”

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court today, 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.

Glen Millar a senior partner with Thompsons Solicitors represents the Goulding family and made this statement on their behalf.

‘’The Goulding family do not see today’s guilty plea as any form of triumph or something that gives them even the remotest sense of satisfaction.

"They remain today as they have since 9th July 2019; numb, and frankly disbelieving at the neglect that led to their beloved son Fox losing his young life.

"Fox was abandoned by professionals who had been entrusted with his care, flying in the face not only of the laws of health and safety but also principles of common sense and decency.

"The ultimate price was paid for that and, notwithstanding today’s conviction, it is the family who continue to have to deal with the aftermath.

"Whilst grateful to the Crown Office for their work, the family’s overriding feeling in respect to the outcome of the case is one of indifference.

"No monetary fine could ever come close to reflecting their pain or adequately address the senseless loss of Fox.‘’

Ros Marshall, Managing Director of Bright Horizons 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.”

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