Staff suspended after ignoring asthma attack that killed boy aged 11

Coroner's jury finds school 'significantly contributed to' pupil's death by neglect

Five members of staff have been suspended after an 11-year-old boy died after being made to sit in the school corridor while suffering an asthma attack.

Sam Linton died after neglect at Offerton High School, in Stockport, "significantly contributed" to his death, an inquest jury ruled.

He was seen wheezing and using his inhaler for three hours but school staff did not call 999. When his mother was called to take him to hospital he was grey and his lips were blue. He died hours later in hospital on 4 December 2007.

Stockport Council said yesterday that five staff had been suspended while an internal inquiry was carried out, but refused to name them.

The jury at Stockport Coroner's Court ruled last week that Sam's death was due to natural causes, but was "significantly contributed to" by neglect by the school on an "individual and systemic level". The jury said Offerton High School had failed to implement an in-school asthma policy, train staff in dealing with asthma, keep a health care plan, share information with staff about Sam's asthma attacks or monitor the boy's condition on the day of his death.

Sam's parents, Paul and Karen Linton, want stronger implementation of first aid procedures at the school. Mr Linton said the council's move was a "knee-jerk reaction" and was too little, too late.

The family's lawyer, Jonathan Betts, criticised the delay in action, more than two years after Sam's death. "The council may say there hasn't been a period of inactivity, but Sam's family beg to differ, given his tragic death occurred in December 2007."

Stockport Council said in a statement: "In the light of ... evidence presented to the inquest and the verdict reached by the jury, Offerton School, with the assistance of the council, has decided to carry out an inquiry into the actions of ... staff. Five members of staff have been suspended, without prejudice, pending the outcome of the inquiry."

The statement said the school's governing body had introduced practices for dealing with pupils with asthma following Sam's death, and had ordered a report into what could be learned.

Mr Betts said: "Sam's family just want action to avoid this happening again. More than two years on from his wholly avoidable death, we appear no closer to that action. All that's needed is a simple policy that tells teachers that if any child has an asthma attack in school and is not showing signs of improvement within 5-10 minutes, then an ambulance should be called."

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