• Robert Spicer

Death of psychiatric patient: health and safety prosecution: Scottish Health Board fined

Death of psychiatric patient: Scottish Health Board fined

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service v NHS Ayrshire and Arran (2015) Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, October 27

HNS Ayrshire and Arran has been fined following the death of a psychiatric patient in its care.

Significant points of the case

  • In August 2010 Gary Niven, a patient with a history of depression, hanged himself in the A&E department of Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock. He died a few days later.

  • The risk of psychiatric patients being left alone was identified by the Health Board. It had procedures for staff to follow but these were not followed for Mr Niven.

  • Mr Niven had been taken by ambulance to the hospital after saying he was feeling suicidal and had already attempted to hang himself. He was taken to a room where the doors were always left open so that he could be observed. A charge nurse noticed that the doors were closed and Mr Niven was found inside, having made a ligature from the arm of his jumper.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran was fined £100,000, reduced to £67,000 on the basis of an early plea of guilty, under section 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees.

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