• Robert Spicer

Surrey and Borders Partnership fined £300,000 after death of vulnerable patient

NHS Foundation Trust fined following death of patient

Health and Safety Executive v Surrey and Borders NHS Foundation Trust (2017) Guildford Crown Curt, June 22

Statutory reference: s.3 of the Health and safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 (HSWA).

Surrey and Borders NHS Foundation Trust has been fined after a patient suffered fatal injuries in a fall.

The facts

· Adam Withers was detained as a patient at Epsom Hospital. In May 2014 he was in the hospital courtyard with his mother. he climbed over a conservatory roof and up a 130-foot industrial chimney. He fell and suffered fatal injuries.

· There had been a series of failures to ensure the proper management of risk associated with absconding patients.

· There was insufficient communication between employees and inadequate systems to ensure that the risks identified were addressed and remedied.

The decision

The Trust was fined £300,000 plus £16,700 costs under s.3 HSWA for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that if the Trust had carried out a suitable assessment and made the appropriate changes they would not have allowed a vulnerable person the opportunity to end his life.

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