The prosecution follows the death of John Anthony Tilling, a 77 year-old man from Brighton, who died in April 2005 after falling from a sling that was being used to move him from his wheelchair to a bed.
The court was told that the trust had not adopted a systematic approach to moving patients and that half of staff had not received training in moving and handling patients, and so did not know how to select and use slings. The trust admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Health and Safety Executive press release follows.
SOUTH DOWNS NHS TRUST FINED£25,000 AFTER FATALITY
South Downs Health NHS Trust has today been fined£25,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of£8,000 at Hove Crown Court following a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive.
John Anthony Tilling, a 77-year-old man from Brighton died on 23 April 2005. Mr Tilling died shortly after falling from a sling which was being used to move him from his wheelchair to his bed. The fall was a contributory factor in his death.
Liz Smith, HM Inspector of Health and Safety, said:
'Mr Tilling, a frail and vulnerable person, died as a result of a series of management failures by South Downs Health NHS Trust, who were entrusted with his care.
'Although the immediate cause was the wrong type and size of sling being used, crucially, no specific assessment of how to safely move Mr Tilling had been carried out. Half the staff had not received training on moving and handling and so did not know how to select and use the right type of sling. The Trust had not adopted a systematic approach to moving patients that identified the appropriate equipment to use and the risks that arise from using the wrong equipment.
'A Trust cannot simply rely on having a policy document without having arrangements to ensure and monitor its implementation.
'Trusts need to ensure that health and safety policies are implemented, risk assessments carried out, so that control measures can be identified and implemented.'
Moving and handling of patients is an integral part of providing nursing care. Failure to manage it properly can not only impact on the safety of patients, as this case tragically illustrates, but can also lead to injuries to care staff.
The principles of good management of manual handling are well established and HSE will seek to hold healthcare organisations to account where they fail to ensure the safety of both their patients and staff.
South Downs Health NHS Trust was fined£25,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states:
''It shall be the dutyof every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.'