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Council successfully prosecutes hotels group after guest sustains life-changing injuries in rusted railings fall

Image showing damaged railings
Damaged railings

Sefton Council has successfully prosecuted Britannia Hotels after a guest at its Prince of Wales Hotel in Southport sustained life-changing injuries due to falling through rusted iron railings.

Fiona Townsend, the Council’s Senior Lawyer told Sefton Magistrates Court that the railings to prevent people falling down the 6ft drop to the basement lightwells were missing in one location and badly corroded in numerous other areas. The Council had issued an improvement notice after the Company failed to make the area safe with suitable fencing over three weeks after the incident.


She said: “Britannia Hotels could not demonstrate that a system was in place to check and maintain the iron railing regularly. Its risk assessments failed to address the hazard of a fall from height as happened to guest Deborah Henshall and did not refer to the iron railings.

“The company fell short of the appropriate safety and the systems it had in place were not sufficiently adhered to or implemented. It had failed to make appropriate changes following prior incident and had allowed breaches to continue over a long period.

“This led to the incident, which has had a substantial and long-term effect on the Ms Henshall’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities or on their ability to return to work.


In a Victim Statement, Deborah Henshall told the court after a full body scan at Aintree Hospital she was told she had two spinal fractures, a broken left big toe and blood on her lungs due to the sternum and rib fractures. She had also sustained a head injury, concussion and trauma.

She said she was distressed over how her life has changed since the accident, before which she was working two jobs. In her statement she wrote that she had been off work since the accident had lost both jobs and is currently on Universal Credit and personal independent payments.

‘I am still suffering everyday with severe pain,’ she wrote. ‘I used to be a very outgoing and very social within my group of friends and family this accident has caused me so much pain and distress that I feel will never back to the person I was before this accident.’


Fining Britannia Hotels £80,000  and awarding costs of £6821.92, District Judge Wendy Lloyd said: “I take both Britannia’s previously good character and guilty plea into account, but others were exposed to risk of falling into the light-well, a number of people were potentially at risk.

“I extend great sympathy to Ms Henshall. This amount is in no way a representation of what I think her injury is worth. This is a fine on health and safety failings.”


Afterwards, Fiona Townsend said: “Sefton Council is always keen to work with businesses to provide help and advice on how they can maintain health and safety.

“But, as this case shows, we will also take action where health and safety standards are not maintained, particularly when this failing has had serious consequences.”


Support available to help Sefton businesses keep staff and customers safe, as lockdown measures ease

With restrictions on the opening of non-essential shops and other businesses from today, Sefton Council’s Environmental Health Team is urging everyone to continue distancing, wearing face covering, maintaining ventilation where possible and keep washing their hands thoroughly and frequently.

First steps

Peter Moore, Sefton Council’s Head of Highways & Public Protection said: “Today is a big day in starting to open up the Borough and take some first steps in the huge task of getting the local economy back on its feet.

“We appreciate the huge amounts of work that Sefton’s businesses have put into preparations for re-opening and making sure they have all the safety measures required in place.

“However, this is just the step and we all need to remain careful and continue to follow all the safety measure to protect ourselves and others.”

Help and support for businesses available from Sefton Council’s Environmental Health team who can be contact at  or by calling 0345 140 0345.


To help businesses keep their employees and customers safe, the Government has produced 14 guides covering a range of different types of work and workplace, which can be found at

They include information for close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, for construction and other outdoor as well as factories, plants and warehouses.

Heritage locations, hotels and guest accommodation, laboratories and research facilities and offices and contact centres are also covered. And there is guidance for people who work in, visit or deliver to other people’s homes and the performing arts.

Advice and help

Mr Moore added: “We would advise that business owners and managers across Sefton check the Government’s latest guides to make sure they are operating as safely as they can, but the Council’s Environmental Health team is also keen to work with them and provide advice and help.”

Find out more about support for Sefton businesses. 

‘Stay vigilant and get your second vaccine dose,’ says Sefton’s Director of Public Health

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health has joined her colleagues from across Cheshire and Merseyside in urging people to attend appointments for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 1.4 million vaccines have already been administered in Cheshire and Merseyside with around 95 per cent of over 70s now having received their first dose. But as second dose appointments gather pace, the region’s Directors of Public Health, including Margaret are reminded people they only have maximum protection if they have both doses.

Maximum protection

She said: “I am pleased that across our region so many people, including me, have already had a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“But I can confirm that I will definitely be attending my appointment for a second dose because it is only with two doses that we have maximum protection.

“In the meantime, because I could still pick up and pass on the virus, I will be continuing to follow the guidance on distancing, wearing face covering and washing my hands as well as sticking to the Government’s lockdown regulations.”

No hesitation

Addressing concerns people may have about the AstraZeneca vaccine, Mrs Jones said: “I had the AstraZeneca vaccine with no noticeable side-effects and will have absolutely no hesitation in going to get the protection a second dose will provide. I would go tomorrow, although in fact my follow up appointment is not until June.

“I am also pleased to see that the latest YouGov survey shows that most people in the UK agree with me with 75 per cent of British respondents saying they trust the AstraZeneca jab.”

This week, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates medicines in the UK, said the overall risk of developing blood clots after the AstraZeneca vaccination is just 4 in a million.

The MHRA also said vaccines have already saved thousands of lives and are the best way to protect people from COVID-19.

Immune response

Directors of Public Health in Cheshire and Merseyside confirmed some people may have experienced mild side-effects with the first dose of either vaccine but said this is a sign that it is working and triggering their immune response. And they say the possibility of feeling unwell after the second dose is much less common.

Ian Ashworth, Chair of the Cheshire and Merseyside Directors of Public Health Board and Director of Public Health for Cheshire West and Chester said: “The first dose of the vaccine offers good levels of protection, but to get maximum protection everyone will need a second dose. Even if you are vaccinated, it is essential to keep washing your hands, wearing a mask when needed and keeping your distance. Everyone has made huge sacrifices to bring the case numbers down and we want to ensure we don’t see any further rises in the future.”

The Government has reported that there will be a significant reduction in weekly vaccine supply from the beginning of April for a four-week period. The focus during this period will be on ensuring second doses of the vaccine are delivered and that no one is left behind; teams across the region are looking at innovative schemes to take the vaccine to those individuals and communities that have lower uptake of the vaccine.

Second dose

It is therefore even more important that people aged 50 and above, health and care workers, people with an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk, and anyone called for a second dose take up the offer now.

The NHS has been inviting those eligible for a jab by letter and text with GPs also calling some patients.

Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’ and letters include a web link to click and reserve an appointment at one of more than 300 large-scale vaccination centres or pharmacies across England.

Home tests

The Directors of Public Health also urged people to continue getting tested as restrictions are eased, no matter what their vaccine status, to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Find out more about Home Testing and how to obtain Home Test Kits.

Anyone developing coronavirus symptoms should still self-isolate and immediately book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting Eligible people who test positive are entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment in the same way as a regular swab test through NHS Test and Trace.

Twice-weekly rapid COVID test kits available from Friday 9th April

Photo of Home Testing Kit components
Home Testing Kit

From Friday 9th April, people in England will be able to access twice-weekly rapid tests for coronavirus.

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health is encouraging everyone who is going to a work environment or who will be returning to their workplace to take up this offer.

Prevent the spread

She said: “Rapid tests are tests for people without the coronavirus symptoms of a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell and they usually provide a result in around 30 minutes.

“One in three people with coronavirus show no symptoms, which means they can accidentally spread it without knowing.

“Taking a rapid testing twice a week will find those invisible cases and help prevent the spread of infection.”


Rapid coronavirus testing involves taking a throat & nasal swab, dropping the sample into the container supplied and then checking the result after 20 to 30 minutes.

Rapid test kits can be collected from Bootle Town Hall and Splash World in Southport from 8am-8pm seven days a week. No appointments are needed.

Kits can also be collected from walk-through Local Test Centres opposite Bootle Town Hall and at Crosby Library Car Park, Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall between 2.30pm and 8pm, seven days a week. No appointments are needed.

And they are available from all Sefton’s pharamacies.

Kits can also be ordered online.

Assisted testing

People can also choose to have assisted testing at one of Sefton’s SMART test sites, which are also open 8am to 8pm seven days a week and located at Bootle Leisure Centre, Splash World in Southport and at Aintree Racecourse although this centre is closed and will re-open on Monday 12th April.

Find out more about testing in Sefton. 


Anyone who gets a positive result from a rapid test must self-isolate for 10 days and immediately book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting .

Eligible people who test positive are entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment in the same way as a regular swab test through NHS Test and Trace.


As well as getting regular rapid tests Margaret Jones is encouraging anyone who is offered a vaccination to go along and get a jab to protect themselves and those around them.

She said: “Tens of thousands of people across Sefton, including me, have already had their first vaccination and many will have had their second too, but it is important that all of us take the opportunity to get our jab when it is offered.

“Infection rates in Sefton have dropped significantly but vaccination is the best way for to protect ourselves and those around us and underpins our way out of lockdown and a return to the more normal ways of life we all want to see.”

Find out more about vaccinations and who is eligible for a jab.   

Call for carers to book COVID-19 jab

As the COVID-19 vaccination programme continues to make good progress, GPs in Sefton are reminding unpaid carers to get registered and come forward for their vaccine.

Some unpaid carers may not receive an invitation for their vaccination if their carer status is not known to the NHS so it’s important to ensure they are registered with Sefton Carers Centre who can help with this.

Sefton Carers Centre will register unpaid carers and provide them with a letter as proof of their status. Unpaid carers will need the letter before booking their vaccination through their GP practice.

Carers eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine include anyone who is a main carer of someone who receives Carer’s Allowance or who is at high risk from coronavirus from a condition.

This includes:

  • Children with severe neuro-disabilities (you will be informed by your GP)
  • Those who are designated Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (advised to shield)
  • Adults with underlying health conditions
  • Those who need care because of advanced age.

Fiona Taylor, chief officer for NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect those who you are caring for and yourself from coronavirus. The life-saving vaccine is safe and effective.

“If you are a carer, please register with Sefton Carers Centre as soon as possible. This will ensure that anyone eligible for the vaccination isn’t missed and we can continue to protect our local community and the most vulnerable.”

Vicky Keeley, chief executive officer at Sefton Carers Centre added: “Unpaid carers have been under increasing demands and stress as the pandemic continues. The vaccination programme is vital to protect vulnerable people and carers.

“Sefton Carers Centre provides a range of free support, advice, and activities for all unpaid carers on their journey of care. Carers registered with us will receive a letter confirming their caring status as evidence for the vaccination programme. Free personal protective equipment can also be accessed via Sefton Council until 21 June 2021.

“We would encourage anyone aged 16 and over in a caring role to register with us and then speak with their GP to make sure that they get vaccinated.”

To register as an unpaid carer with the Sefton Carers Centre, please call 0151 288 6060.

If you are an unpaid carer and provide care to someone outside of your household, you can order Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) free of charge from Sefton Council until 21 June 2021. To order email and make sure you clearly mark your email as “Carers PPE” or call 0345 140 0845. For more information, visit Sefton Council’s website.

For more information about the Covid-19 vaccination visit:

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organisation have all been absolutely clear that the vaccines are safe and effective, and people should go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so.

NHS South Sefton CCG and NHS Southport and Formby CCG have been responsible for buying or ‘commissioning’ the majority of local health services since 1 April 2013, when primary care trusts were abolished.

NHS South Sefton CCG brings together 30 member GP practices covering an area from Bootle in the south, Hightown in the north and Maghull to the east.

NHS Southport and Formby CCG’s membership are made up of 19 GP practices.

For more information visit: / or follow us on Twitter @NHSSFCCG / @NHSSSCCG

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