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CQC brings first ever prosecution of NHS trust over safety


The Care Quality Commission is to bring its first ever prosecution of an NHS trust over an “alleged failure to provide safe care”.

The regulator said today that it was prosecuting Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust after a patient sustained serious injuries at a mental health unit run by the scandal-hit trust.

The prosecution is the first time an NHS trust has been prosecuted by the CQC under the fundamental standards regulations. Prior to this action, the regulator has only used its fundamental standards to prosecute four care home providers.

The standards, which came into effect in April 2015 following the Francis report into the scandal of poor care at the former Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, were designed to set minimum, criminal, thresholds for care.

The prosecution is in relation to an incident in December 2015 when a patient sustained serious injuries during a fall from a low roof at Melbury Lodge, Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

The centre, run by Southern Health, includes an acute adult mental health ward where the fall took place. The centre also houses a specialist mother and baby perinatal mental health unit.

The trust is also facing prosecution over “other patients being exposed to a significant risk of avoidable harm”.

The case is expected to be heard later in the year by Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court and if the trust is found guilty it could face an unlimited fine. No date has yet been set for the hearing.

By law, registered providers of health and social care services – including NHS trusts – must take all reasonable steps and exercise all due diligence to ensure patients receive safe care and treatment.

In response, Julie Dawes, interim chief executive of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I express again our apologies to the patient involved, and the patient’s family. Since the incident the trust has made significant improvements to Melbury Lodge, investing over £1m.

“This includes climb-proof guttering to prevent a similar incident taking place, as well as comprehensive refurbishment of the interior to make the ward safer and more therapeutic for patients,” she added.

Southern Health is being prosecuted under Regulations 12(1) and 22 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014). Regulation 12 relates to preventing people from receiving unsafe care and treatment and preventing avoidable harm or risk of harm. Breach of the regulation is a criminal offence and the CQC can take action without having to issue a warning notice, under changes brought in by health secretary Jeremy Hunt as part of wider reforms of the CQC.



Readers' comments (5)

  • Whilst I commend the CQC for identifying the failings, I cannot see how fining the NHS Trust is going to help them, us or those who were affected. After all it is our money; mine and yours that runs the NHS, and the more money taken from it, whether from fines or those who sue, the less there is for me and you who are the future (and perhaps) present, patients !!

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  • The reason is to put it on record, Carol.

    Otherwise it just becomes a recognised way for amoral NHS Senior Managers, who are STILL not subjected to regulation and checks as nurses, doctors and other health care professionals are, to do things on the cheap and cover up neglect. Their pretty but false reports can even result in them being promoted, perhaps to a larger area with a devolved NHS and therefore even less accountability.

    If we want accountability and lawful service, we must have full reports, including omissions, and failings - plus areas of adequacy and excellence - must be recorded.

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  • Dave West -what are the circumstances around the "other patients exposed to a significant risk of avoidable harm?"

    The way this is reported it does look as though money to be paid out on a fine would be better spent improving the buildings but I find it hard to believe that the CQC would settle for persecuting a responsive NHS authority in preference to an improved service. So I'm guessing it is not responsive in a timely and appropriate manner.

    But I do not know what is actually going on because your report is inadequate.

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  • I have now accepted that the prevailing culture of the nhs is one of learned helplessness from the frontline staff due to the rejection of common sense in improving services as it would leave the thousands of managers who are on the gravy train without a reason for their overpaid non clinical jobs. No problems, No job! Turkeys do not vote for Xmas!

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  • I wonder how the pilot schemes for the Buurtzorg health care model are progressing?

    No turkeys allowed in that scheme!

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