Healthcare Company Fined £400,000 for Fatal Accident

BUPA, a nationwide healthcare organisation, has been issued a six-figure fine by the Carlisle Crown Court for negligence resulting in the death of a resident.

On the 24th September 2013, Josephine Millard, aged ninety-one, was found dead on the floor of her room in the Beacon Edge Care Home in Penrith. Josephine was killed by falling from her bed, which spurred an investigation by the Health and Safety Executives. The investigation found that there had been many failings in Josephine’s care. For example, though the care home had clear policies on bedrail safety, a pressure sensor that would have alerted staff to Josephine’s fall had been deactivated.

Additionally, the report found that the staff at the Beacon Edge care facility – which is run by BUPA – had not received training in bedrail management, and any required safety checks were not carried out as needed. The report concluded that, across the care home, there was a general lack of “care and support for people with dementia type illnesses” .

For their breaches of the Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, BUPA Care Homes (CFC Homes) Ltd were prosecuted by the HSE. The company, at a hearing in the Carlisle Magistrates’ Court earlier this year, admitted their guilt to all charges.

Once the company had admitted their culpability, the case was sent to the Carlisle Crown Court for sentencing. BUPA was ordered to pay a £400,000 fine for their negligence. The company were then ordered to pay £15,206 in prosecution costs.

HSE Inspector Carol Forster commented after the hearing that “The need for adequate risk assessment and management of third party bedrails has been recognised in the healthcare sector for a number of years. In this case there was a lack of appropriate assessment of the residents’ changing needs and review of the control measures in place to protect her. The measures that were in place were not used correctly in that the sensor pad which would have alerted staff to the resident’s being out of bed was not switched on”.

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