Family Disappointed After Redcar Pensioner’s Care Home Inquest

The family of an 89-year-old woman who died in a care home fire is considering legal action following their disappointment at a coroner’s decision at her inquest.

Dorothy Robinson, who was bed-bound, was one of two residents left behind during the “chaotic” evacuation of the BUPA-run St David’s care home in Redcar.

Mrs Robinson was found lying in her bed covered in debris with molten lead dripping on her legs and later died at the James Cook University Hospital with 70% burns.

At the final day of the inquest at Teesside Coroner’s Court yesterday, a jury concluded that her death occurred as a result of an accident.

While an inquest cannot attribute blame, coroner Michael Sheffield invited jurors to consider adding neglect by an individual or a system as an addition to their verdict.

But he only allowed them to consider questions relating to the actions of Cleveland Fire Brigade in relation to the possibility of neglect.

After the hearing, the family of Dorothy Robinson issued a statement which read: “Having heard all the evidence ourselves, some of which was as you can expect, upsetting, we are, to say the least, disappointed that the coroner decided not to allow any fault-based verdict on behalf of BUPA Care Homes.

“In light of this we wish to make no further comments at this stage regarding the hearing and the verdict subsequently reached.

“We will be taking further legal advice from our legal team.”

Following the jury’s decision that neglect did not play a part in Mrs Robinson’s death, Mr Sheffield announced he would be writing to the principal of national fire training about overhauling training for firefighters.

In order to help prevent a similar tragedy, he said, firefighters should be given training in evacuating large numbers of people who may be elderly, confused and immobile.

Outside the court, Cleveland Fire Brigade director Tony Marwood expressed his condolences to the family, adding: “I want to praise and support the firefighters who first arrived at the scene from Redcar fire station.

“The circumstances of the fire that they had to deal with was that it was a well-established fire that was spreading rapidly in the roof and they had 40 residents to evacuate.”

Alistair How, operations director for BUPA Care Homes, offered his sympathies to Mrs Robinson’s family after the hearing.

“This has been a difficult period for everyone who was affected by the night’s events,” he said.

“I would like to pay tribute to the bravery of our care workers who, as the jury heard, risked their own lives to successfully rescue 41 other residents.

“The coroner has made it plain that there was no neglect by BUPA or any of our staff.

“The evidence showed that at the time of the fire, St David’s Care Home complied with all relevant fire regulations and the fire was not caused by any failure in the building’s construction or maintenance.”