An NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £366,000 after a patient was found dead on one of its specialist dementia wards.
Mrs Joan Darnell, a 78 year-old lady from Norfolk who suffered from dementia had been admitted to the Julian Hospital at the end of September 2014, but was found dead, lying face down in a bath full of water on October 16th.
When the Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident they found that the Trust did not have suitable policies or procedures for managing the safety of patients. They hadn’t completed an appropriate risk assessment for caring for Mrs Darnell, and had failed to take suitable steps to prevent unsupervised access to the bathrooms on the ward. In addition to this, the Trust had not put systems in place to safely monitor patients while in their care.
The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £366,000 alongside costs of nearly £13,000.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Investigator Anthony Brookes said: “This was a tragic and preventable death. Had the trust put in place the correct procedures for the staff to manage the risks to vulnerable patients Mrs Darnell may still be alive. It is vital that patients’ needs are taken into consideration and Hospital Trusts carry out appropriate risk assessments. They need to make sure the correct work systems are put in place to ensure they are managed, but also appropriately monitored.”
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