• Robert Spicer

Care home knife wounds: NHS Oxleas Trust fined £300,000

Health and Safety Executive v NHS Oxleas Trust (2018) Central Criminal Court, December 20

Statutory reference: ss. 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 (HSWA)

NHS Oxleas Trust has been fined following an incident in which two employees suffered serious stab injuries.

The facts

  • In July 2016 a health care assistant at the Bracton Centre, a medium secure forensic in Kent, was working in the Centre’s kitchen. A service user stabbed him repeatedly with a kitchen knife. He suffered stab wounds to his arms, abdomen and chest, which caused serious internal injuries.

  • A psychiatric nurse who shouted for the attack to stop was also stabbed multiple times.

  • Both victims continue to suffer pain, medical problems and psychological damage.

  • The Centre routinely received high risk patients but there was no patient-specific risk assessment which identified risks and measures required to control those risks before patients were admitted.

  • The use of knives was fundamentally unsafe. Employees were entering and exiting the kitchen several times as knives were in use. There were no instructions or control measures in place regarding kitchen knives.

The decision

The Trust was fined £300,000 plus £28,000 costs under ss. 2 and 3 of HSWA.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that the treatment of patients in medium secure units involved an inherent risk of violence and aggression. The Trust had a duty to ensure the safety of its staff and patients so far as was reasonably practicable.

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