Listeria outbreak: Inquest conclusion to be quashed

Written by on June 21, 2019

A coroner has decided he will have to quash his own inquest conclusion over the death of a woman now linked to a listeria outbreak.

Nigel Meadows had concluded the cause of death for Beverley Sowah, 57, was sepsis, listeria and breast cancer, Manchester Coroner’s Court heard.

The listeria found in her body, and in that of a second woman, Enid Heap, 84, was not linked to food contamination.

Mr Meadows said he would now have to seek permission to hold a new inquest.

An inquest into the death of Mrs Sowah, a retired nurse from Stretford, Manchester, was held on 20 May.

She had been admitted to Manchester Royal Infirmary on 15 April and died on 26 April.

‘Natural process’

Ms Heap, a retired chemist from Beswick, Manchester, had been admitted to the same hospital in March suffering breathing difficulties.

She died on 6 May with her family at her bedside, the court heard.

Her cause of death was given as septicaemia, listeria, pneumonia and idiopathic lung disease.

The listeria present in both women’s bodies was thought to be as a result of a natural process, the court heard.

Mr Meadows will ask the attorney general to apply to the High Court to hold a new inquest due to new information coming to light in relation to Mrs Sowah’s death.

This would take some months, as would the inquest which will now be held into the death of Ms Heap, the court heard.

At a brief hearing to open and adjourn the inquest into the death of Ms Heap, Mr Meadows said: “I was not aware of any suggestion whatsoever that listeria might have arisen from contaminated sandwiches.

“If I had, matters would have progressed completely differently.”

The coroner said at the present time “it might well be” there is a link between the deaths and the chicken sandwiches contaminated with listeria, but that has not yet been proved.

Five people have died after nine cases were confirmed at eight NHS trusts.

Two of the victims were at Manchester Royal Infirmary, with a third patient dying at Aintree Hospital, Public Health England confirmed.

Two more deaths were confirmed last Friday and more affected hospitals were named by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Tuesday.

The cause of death of a businessman who contracted listeria while in hospital for liver cancer is yet to be established.

Ian Hitchcock, 52, died in Nottingham City Hospital on 8 June.

Derby Coroner Robert Hunt said the cause of death would be known in six to eight weeks.

Products from the Good Food Chain, which supplied 43 NHS Trusts, have been withdrawn and production halted.

North Country Cooked Meats and North Country Quality Foods, which it distributed through, have also voluntarily ceased production.

PHE said evidence suggested affected patients ate the products before 25 May.

The Food Standards Agency said its investigation was looking into the whole food supply chain, including transport.

Listeria infection is rare and usually causes a mild illness in healthy people.

Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Stoke and Staffordshire


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