NHS Trust Fined £25,000 After Moving & Handling Fatality

An NHS Trust has been fined £25,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £8,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 at Hove Crown Court.

The victim, a 77-year-old man from Brighton died on 23 April 2005 shortly after falling from a sling which was being used to move him from his wheelchair to his bed. The fall was a contributory factor in his death.

In a statement, Liz Smith, HM Inspector of Health and Safety, said:

“This gentleman was a frail and vulnerable person. He died as a result of a series of management failures by the NHS Trust who were entrusted with his care.

“Although the immediate cause was the wrong type and size of sling being used, crucially, no specific assessment of how to safely move the victim had been carried out. Half the staff had not received training on moving and handling and so did not know how to select and use the right type of sling. The Trust had not adopted a systematic approach to moving patients that identified the appropriate equipment to use and the risks that arise from using the wrong equipment.

Ms Smith continued her statement by stressing how vital it is for Trusts to ensure that the implementation of their health and safety policy is monitored, that risk assessments are conducted and that subsequent control measures are both identified and realized.

Moving and handling of patients is an integral part of providing nursing and social care. Failure to manage it properly can not only, as this case tragically illustrates, impact on the safety of patients, but can also lead to injuries to care and social care staff.

Following this successful prosecution, the Health and Safety Executive have stated that they will seek to hold all healthcare organisations to account where they fail to ensure the safety of both their patients and staff.

HSE information and press releases can be accessed at www.hse.gov.uk (Client ref: HSE/SE/03/09). Regional news releases for the HSE can be viewed at www.gnn.gov.uk (GNN ref 137823P)

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