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Care Home owner in court after death of vulnerable patient

A healthcare company and its director have been ordered to pay over £335,000 in fines and costs after an elderly resident died after she fell from a hoist at a former Bedfordshire care home.

What happened?

100-year-old, May Ward, was being moved by carers using a hoist at Meppershall Care Home. She fell out of the hoist and sustained multiple fractures including her skull, knee and hip. She was rushed to hospital but, sadly, died the following day as a result of her injuries.

An investigation into the incident found that the hoist used to move Mrs Ward was difficult to fit correctly, and the carers hadn’t been given sufficient training in how to safely use the sling. Additionally, the sling wasn’t the spec recommended by Central Bedfordshire Council as being suitable for Mrs Ward’s medical conditions – she was therefore not securely positioned within the sling and when she moved herself forwards, she fell out, hitting the floor.

Safety breaches

The court heard that Meppershall had a history of serious safety breaches, and had received five Improvement Notices over three months relating to deficiencies in resident handling, risk assessment, other risks to residents and a lack of competent health and safety advice.

Mrs Ward’s fatal fall also brought to light another incident at the home, with another resident fracturing a tibia and fibula after falling whilst being moved from her wheelchair to her armchair. This incident had not been reported to the Health and Safety Executive.

GA Projects Limited owned three care homes at the time of May Ward’s death, however, there was no evidence that the director of the firm had taken steps to fulfil his health and safety obligations through the provision of training, or the management of the risks most commonly associated with the care industry.
The court also heard that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had carried out inspections at the home on several occasions prior to the incident, all of which resulted in ‘poor’ or ‘adequate’ ratings.

What was the outcome?

GA Projects Ltd was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £36,992.24, after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The director of the company, Mohammed Zarook, was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000 after also pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Emma Page, said:

“Mrs Ward’s death was a wholly preventable tragedy caused by
unacceptable management failings on the part of GA
Projects Ltd and Mr Zarook. They put vulnerable
residents at the care home at unnecessary risk.

“Working in a care home is a specialised job, which involves dealing with
vulnerable people. Care homes must ensure that they have the correct
training in place for all their employees, and that they work
to adequately assess and mitigate all possible risks,
so far as is reasonably practicable.

“Moving and handling is a particularly important issue in the healthcare
sector and every year vulnerable people suffer injuries caused
by poor moving and handling practice.”

If you have been affected by an incident such as this, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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