Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

December 21, 2015

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Mid Staffs NHS Trust fined £500k following patients’ deaths

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £500,000 following the deaths of four patients between 2005 and 2014 at Cannock and Stafford Hospitals, after it pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches. Families of the four deceased said they hoped lessons will be learned across the whole NHS, following their ordeal.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the deaths of the four patients, which happened at a time when the Trust managed both hospitals. It said there was a lack of safety procedures which resulted in careless and unnecessary failings.

The breaches of health and safety law in regard to two of the four deaths (Jean Tucker in 2005 and Ivy Bunn in 2008) were found during two inquiries into events at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009.

A further two cases (Joy Bourne 2013 and Patrick Daly in 2014) were brought to HSE’s attention after the Francis Inquiry where the Trust had been found to have broken the law.

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust (MSFT) was placed into special administration and ceased to provide health care services on 31 October 2014.

Three of the patients suffered falls that led to their deaths and a fourth, Jean Tucker, suffered a severe anaphylactic reaction after being given penicillin, despite having informed the hospital on several occasions of an allergy to it.

The HSE investigated the Trust, in line with its policy to investigate deaths that occur in the health sector where there is evidence that clear standards had not been met because of a systematic failure in management systems.

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was prosecuted by HSE and pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in relation to all four patients.

At Stafford Crown Court, it was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay £35,517.34 costs.

HSE principal inspector in the West Midlands, Wayne Owen, said: “The deaths of Jean, Ivy, Joy and Patrick were preventable. Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust failed them and their loved ones.

“The Trust failed to follow a number of its own policies in relation to handing over information, completing records, carrying out falls risk assessments and the monitoring of care plans. These systems were not robust enough to ensure they were followed consistently and correctly.

“It is in the public interest that any hospital Trust is held accountable for serious breaches of the law resulting in death or life-changing harm. We expect lessons to be learned across the NHS to prevent tragedies like the losses of these four lives from happening again.”

The families of the four victims collectively provided a statement: “We all expected our loved ones to return home from Stafford Hospital having had the correct care and treatment and their lives should not have ended when they did. It has been a harrowing experience to know that they died in an unhappy and undeserved manner.

“Some basic rules had not been adhered to and the level of care was simply not good enough.

“We acknowledge the Trusts unreserved apologies and the conclusion of this case goes some way to bringing the closure that we all need. It is hoped that lessons will be learned across the whole NHS to ensure hospitals do not put other families through the same terrible ordeal.”

HSE also prosecuted the Trust in 2014 for the death of Gillian Astbury, who died in April 2011.

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