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Manchester Royal Infirmary: Hospital patients died after eating chicken sandwiches suspected of containing listeria, inquest hears

Two women died after eating chicken mayonnaise sandwiches suspected of containing the bacteria listeria at a Manchester hospital, an inquest has heard.

Beverley Sowah, 57, and Enid Heap, 84, were served the sandwiches on consecutive days while patients at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) in 2019.

The women, with underlying health conditions, died days after eating the pre-prepared sandwiches - prompting an investigation into a national listeria outbreak, with cases outside the hospital.

Listeria can contaminate many foods, and can cause an illness called listeriosis, potentially fatal for people with weakened immune systems.

Retired nurse Mrs Sowah was admitted to MRI on 15 April 2019, suffering from advanced breast cancer. Two days later she was given the sandwich and died on 26 April.

There was no evidence of "sub-optimal" care for Ms Sowah apart from the "hospital-acquired" listeria infection, the court heard.

Mrs Heap, a mother-of-five, was admitted to the MRI on 25 March 2019 and was served the same type of sandwich on 18 April. She died on 6 May.

The two women have been pictured for the first time since their deaths.

Manchester Coroner's Court heard the source of the bacteria linked to an external food supplier, not MRI's kitchens.

At the joint inquest for both women, were lawyers for North Country Quality Food, based in Salford, which supplied the chicken to the Good Food Chain - both companies having gone bust since the incident.

Good Food Chain in Staffordshire made the sandwiches from its "Whole lotta Good" range, and supplied them to hospitals. They made up to 40,000 sandwiches a day, supplying around 70 hospitals.

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Manchester city coroner, Zak Golombeck, said: "This case concerns the deaths of two individuals, for whom, there is reason to suspect, they died of a notifiable disease, namely listeria."

Mr Golombeck said the "primary hypothesis" was the source of the listeria infection was the chicken sandwiches eaten by both women.

The hearing was told the Manchester listeria outbreak had the same genetic link as another outbreak in Liverpool.

The inquest is expected to last up to five days.