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Norfolk hotel fined £50,000 after elderly guest scalded in bath

PUBLISHED: 11:52 26 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:13 29 May 2018

The Victoria Hotel, Holkham.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The Victoria Hotel, Holkham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2011

An 86-year-old man was left with life-changing injuries after he was trapped in a bath with scalding water pouring in.

The Victoria at Holkham Ltd was fined £50,000 at Huntingdon magistrates’ court on May 24 after pleading guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for exposing its guests to a risk of scalding in its hotel.

An incident occurred at Ancient House – part of the Victoria Hotel, Holkham – in September 2016 which resulted in extensive injuries to a guest.

Geoffrey Saunders, from Essex, spent six weeks in hospital following the incident. He sustained catastrophic scalding injuries and still has health problems, including very painful scarring from his burns.

A Holkham spokesman said: “The management team at The Victoria sincerely regrets this incident involving Mr Saunders. The team have ensured all recommended remedial work and advisory signs have been actioned.”

The water temperature in Mr Saunders’ bath had not been regulated to avoid such an injury despite the company having been informed by professionals that temperature-regulating valves needed to be fitted to the taps and that ‘Caution: very hot water’ signs should be displayed.

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) said the risk occurred because the Victoria had addressed another risk – that of legionella infection – in a manner so as to create and perpetuate the scalding risk.

While in the bath, Mr Saunders attempted to top up the water. Scalding water came out of the high tap on to his back and he was unable to turn it off. He instinctively recoiled from the hot water and became trapped in the bath with scalding water pouring in.

NNDC’s investigation found that the hotel had failed to fit thermostatic-mixing valves to their bath taps, and failed to act on recommendations made by its consultant to control excessively hot water, despite unsafe temperatures being routinely recorded in its temperature logs. Furthermore, the design of the bath made it difficult for elderly guests to get in and out.

The company had also declined to follow professional advice to display hot-water warning signs as it felt this would detract from the aesthetics of the decor.

Full costs were awarded to the council.

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