Manchester Royal Infirmary deaths: Beverley Sowah and Enid Heap died after eating chicken sandwiches contaminated with listeria, inquest concludes

Two women died after eating chicken mayo sandwiches contaminated with listeria, which were fed to them in hospital, an inquest has concluded.

Retired Jamaican nurse Beverley Sowah, 57, and mother-of-five Enid Heap, 84, were given the sandwiches on successive days while patients at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) in 2019.

Both women, who had underlying health problems, died within days, the joint-inquest into their deaths heard at Manchester Coroner's Court.

Their deaths were among seven fatalities that were part of a nationwide alert over the listeria outbreak, which affected nine people in all in other hospitals, including in Liverpool, Leicester and Derby.

Listeria can cause an illness called listeriosis, which can be fatal for people with weakened immune systems, including the elderly, sick or children.

Following a five-day inquest a jury concluded the listeria bacteria entered the food chain at cooked meat processing firm North Country Quality Foods in Salford, Greater Manchester.

They supplied the contaminated chicken to sandwich-making firm the Good Food Chain, based in Stone, Staffordshire, which used it to produce chicken mayo sandwiches.

These were then supplied to Sodexo, who were contracted to supply the NHS trust running the MRI, and the sandwiches were fed to Mrs Sowah and Mrs Heap.

Both women acquired listeria from the contaminated food which more than minimally contributed to their deaths, jurors decided.

The cause of death for Mrs Sowah was given as sepsis, listeria and metastatic breast cancer, while for Mrs Heap the cause of death was given as septicaemia, listeria, pneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis.

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Both the meat supplier and the sandwich maker firm have since gone into liquidation.