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Shropshire hospital trust fined £300,000 for patient death falls

By Lisa O'Brien | Health | Published:

The trust that runs Shropshire’s two main hospitals has been fined more than £300,000 for failing to ensure the safety of five elderly patients who suffered falls and later died.

Telford's Princess Royal Hospital

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust admitted failing to ensure the safety of the five elderly people following a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive.

At Stafford Crown Court yesterday, Justice Charles Haddon-Cave fined the trust £333,333 and ordered the authority to pay costs of £130,000 to HSE.

He said no financial penalty would be able to adequately equal the loss of life. But he added: “This prosecution affords a measure of justice and steps have been taken to seek to ensure standards have been improved and this sort of thing will never happen again.”

The court heard that there was a series of failings at the trust included inadequate assessments of patients and poor information sharing by staff at the point of a shift change was insufficient.

The court was told there was also poor record-keeping and failure to provide one-to-one care for the most vulnerable patients.

The trust was prosecuted after five patients died following falls at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital or Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in 2011 and 2012.

Mr Bernard Thorogood, prosecuting, argued at an earlier hearing that falls at the hospitals contributed to the death of at least four of the patients. These were 74-year-old Mohan Singh, 74; 81-year-old Eileen Thomson, 81; Edna Evans, 92 and Ada Clarke, 91. Mr Thorogood said in the case of Gerald Morris, 72, it could not be proven that the hospital fall directly contributed to his death.

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Justice Haddon-Cave said he had taken into consideration that the trust had been co-operative, had taken steps to make improvements and had a deficit. He said if it had been a private company the starting level for the fine would have been £1 million.

He said the reduction was due to the trust’s guilty plea, the fact it is a healthcare authority, its financial situation and its future plans.

It is not the first time the trust has been in court for breaching health and safety rules.

The court heard that the trust was fined £50,000 at Shrewsbury Crown Court in 2010 after an 89-year-old man fell out of bed at Princess Royal Hospital and later died.

HSE said it prosecuted the trust after an investigation found the hospital had failed to provide the man with a bed rail that would have prevented the fall.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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