Mum of injured youngster blasts Leeds nursery after 'chicken soup' burn

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Mum of injured youngster blasts Leeds nursery after 'chicken soup' burn

8th July 2013

The mother of a young boy who suffered second degree burns whilst in the care of a Leeds nursery said she was ‘shocked and appalled’ by the way that she and her son had been treated.

Katie Brewster was speaking at the end of a 12-month legal battle, after son Harrison (below right) was left with a large scar on his thigh because of the incident last summer.

Miss Brewster, 30, was contacted by staff at Kids Academy on Tuesday, 24 July and told that Harrison, who was four years old at the time, had spilled some chicken soup on himself. “When I got the call at work I was told that Harrison had spilled soup on his leg and that – just to be on the safe side – I might want to take him home,” said Miss Brewster, of Adel. “I went straight there, and on the way I contacted the doctor to make an appointment to have him checked out.”

But when she arrived at the Holtdale Approach nursery to collect her son, she discovered that Harrison had actually been burned when a nursery assistant tripped and dropped a dish containing a cooked chicken breast - spilling red hot chicken fat and juices onto his lap.

“I was really shocked,” said Miss Brewster, who works for a marketing agency in Headingley. “I couldn’t believe it. He was really badly burned, but nobody had even called for an ambulance. I was just appalled.

“I took him straight to the doctors where he was treated and had the wound dressed, but then he had a very restless night,” she said. “The next day the burned area was badly blistered so I took him to the A&E department at Leeds General Infirmary, and he had to have the blisters syringed and the wound area cleaned.

“He was really brave, but it was absolutely awful to see him in so much pain and discomfort.”

Miss Brewster said that by the weekend Harrison had started to complain of his leg feeling stiff, and she returned to the hospital with her son. “His wound had become infected, so he had to be given intravenous antibiotics and then have a procedure known as a ‘scrape and scrub’, where the dead tissue was literally scraped from his leg and then the area scrubbed clean.”

Harrison had sustained second degree burns to his right leg above the knee, and the subsequent infection meant he had to stay in hospital for three days.

“He was allowed home on the following Monday, but was very upset and subdued after what he’d been through,” said Miss Brewster. “I knew it would be a struggle, but there was no way he was going back to the nursery – especially after they initially gave me a false account of what had happened. Harrison was starting school in the September, so I took holiday and unpaid leave from work, and then family and friends helped look after him for a few weeks until his start date.”

Miss Brewster said she was astonished to then receive a bill from the nursery, with a letter stating that she had failed to give them a month’s notice before removing Harrison from their care.

“I had already decided that they needed to be held to account for what they’d done, if only to try to make sure this didn’t happen to anyone else,” she said, “but when I got the invoice that was just adding insult to injury.”

Miss Brewster had instructed Chris Baxendale, a specialist serious injury lawyer with Fentons Solicitors LLP, to take on the case.

“This was a scary ordeal, both for Harrison and his mum as well,” said Mr Baxendale. “The injury he sustained was really quite severe, and Katie’s shock, upset and outrage was entirely understandable.

“The nursery’s own prospectus points out the danger presented byadults carrying hot drinks, yet they failed to apply the same standards to fluids from hot food,” he said. “The fact that the hot chicken was even being carried in the nursery area was in itself an act of negligence.”

Mr Baxendale said the nursery’s insurers admitted liability for the youngster’s injuries shortly after he took on the case, and after obtaining specialist evidence from a consultant plastic surgeon he subsequently negotiated an undisclosed settlement on Harrison’s behalf. The settlement was approved at a hearing on Thursday (4 July) at Leeds County Court.

“Now that this is all over, I’m just happy that Harrison’s injury wasn’t even more serious,” said Miss Brewster. “He was under the care of the plastic surgeon for six months after the incident, but has now been discharged and we’re just concentrating on getting on with our lives.

“Thankfully the injury is healing quite well, and it hasn’t affected Harrison’s enjoyment of school at all,” she said. “He’s back to being the happy little boy he was before all this started.”

Media coverage: Telegraph Online, Mail Online, Yorkshire Evening Post