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Care group fined following resident's death.

A West Yorkshire care group was fined £1.6m after an elderly resident in one of its homes froze to death.

The Leeds-based Maria Mallaband Care Group was taken to court by Harrogate Borough Council following the death of the resident, who had dementia, at Oaklands Country Rest Home, Kirk Hammerton.

The resident, who has not been identified, was rushed to Harrogate Hospital on  November 4 2012,  after being found to have a temperature of 25.3°C rather than the normal average body temperature of 37°C. She died that night of hypothermia.

In November 2015 an inquest ruled that there was a failure to provide basic care for the patient who was  unable to make decisions about temperature regulation in her room. She had been in hospital a week before and staff had not updated her care plan.

An investigation by Harrogate Borough Council found that there had been a problem with the care home’s heating system and, on the day she died, the woman had not been given any hot food or drink.

As well as being fined, the care group was also made to pay Harrogate Borough Council's £45,560 costs after pleading guilty to an offence of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Harrogate Borough Council, environmental health officer, Tony Moule, said: "Our investigation revealed that there were a number of serious failures with regard to health and safety legislation which are designed to ensure the wellbeing of care home residents. We welcome the court's decision to impose a significant fine.

"No fine can ever compensate the family for the loss of their mother in such shocking circumstances. For an elderly vulnerable person to suffer hypothermia, while in bed in her room under the care of a national care provider, beggars belief.

"Care homes must take their responsibilities seriously and Maria Mallaband Care Group Limited failed in its duty of care. We hope that this case sends out a message which will help to ensure that such events don't happen in the future."

Following sentencing the sons of the deceased said "The last four years have been very hard for the family, coming to terms with the tragic circumstances of mum's death from hypothermia. It is hard to believe that an elderly lady with dementia could be treated in such an appalling way in a care home that claimed to specialise in the care of such vulnerable people."