A coroner has called on the Government to make first aid training compulsory by law for nursery workers.
South Manchester coroner John Pollard said he would write to the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove as a “matter of national importance” after the baby daughter of Burnley-born Mrs Joanne Thompson died after choking on food at a private nursery in Stockport. He also urged all nurseries to ensure their staff undergo first aid training.
The coroner’s actions were praised by Mrs Thompson who set up the charity Millie’s Trust, in her daughter’s memory, to campaign to make first aid training lessons compulsory for schoolchildren. Mrs Thompson gave up her career as a quantity surveyor to train as a first aider and run courses, along with her husband, Dan, and to date they have trained 2,100 people all over the UK and Ireland.
Mrs Thompson said: “To know the very thing we are campaigning for is to be taken to the highest level is good news and I hope the Government will take it on board.”
A jury returned a verdict of misadventure after the hearing into the death of nine-month-old Millie Thompson who died at Ramillie’s Hall private nursery in Cheadle Hulme on October 23rd last year. The hearing at Oldham Coroner’s Court heard Millie started coughing during her lunchtime feed of mashed-up shepherd’s pie. The hearing heard the supervisor at the privately run nursery, whose basic first aid training certificate had run out, was feeding Millie when she started to cough and turned blue. The supervisor called for help and passed Millie to a colleague who had paediatric first aid training. Millie was pulled from her high chair and given five slaps on her back instead of a repeated sequence of chest thrusts and further back slaps.
Her condition fluctuated and then deteriorated and an ambulance arrived 10 minutes after staff dialled 999. The emergency call was wrongly graded as “serious but not life threatening” when it should have been graded as “immediately life threatening”. The inquest heard the emergency call handler did not have clinical training and ended the call by saying: “Jeez, stop giving me information” unaware she was still being recorded.
As a result, Mr Pollard said he would be writing to the North-West Ambulance Service calling for better training for call handlers. Millie was taken to Stepping Hill Hospital where she was pronounced dead soon after arrival. It emerged during the hearing that Millie suffered a rare complication as a result of the choking in which air was able to get into her partially blocked airway but not out. The trapped air placed pressure on her heart which led to a fatal cardiac arrest.
Mrs Thompson, a former pupil of Padiham Primary School, where her mum, Mrs Jackie McInnes, works as a receptionist, and Ivy Bank High School, Burnley, plans to take civil action against the nursery in the New Year.
Set up in the wake of the devastating tragedy, Millie’s Trust runs 25 first aid courses every month all over the UK, by the Thompsons and a team of fully trained volunteers.
They have become so successful an office was set up in Cheadle to handle hundreds of emails that flood in every week through Facebook. Thousands of pounds has been raised by well wishers to help the trust with its work, including £7,000 towards the cost of a trip to New Zealand to meet someone who lost their little boy in similar circumstances.
Mrs Thompson, who lives in Wilmslow, said: “We never imagined it would be so successful but we are receiving inquiries about our first aid courses from all over the world and the messages of support have been overwhelming.”
The Facebook site has also proved to be a life saver after Mrs Thompson posted details of spotting the symptoms of meningitis. A mum contacted her to say she read it and when her daughter became ill she spotted the signs so took her straight to hospital where she was diagnosed with meninigitis and treated for it.